When emotions become overwhelming, people may use some surprising methods to deal with them.

One such method is cutting, a form of self-injury used as a coping strategy. Some young people use a razor or other sharp object to cut their wrists or their arms when they are sad, frustrated, or upset. They feel that it helps them relieve their emotional pain. Others cut themselves when they feel numb, and the pain reminds them that they’re alive. However, soon after doing it, they may feel remorse and discouragement.

Self-harm can be an addictive behavior, as the person comes to depend on the sense of release it provides. At the same time, they may have to increase the level of harm to achieve the initial effect. The wounds can be a source of infection or cause significant blood loss.

Cutting is not typically considered a suicidal behavior, as it is an attempt to deal with the pressures of life, rather than to escape them. Even so, cutting leaves ugly physical scars or marks that people try to hide. People become secretive and isolated and may feel ashamed, guilty, and depressed.

If you are involved with cutting or have a friend in that situation, you need to take immediate action. There are methods to avoid cutting when you feel the urge, including tightly holding cubes of ice, scribbling on your arms with a red marker, or taking a cold shower. However, this does not address the root issues. To repair your feelings and emotions, you need to talk openly with someone about what’s really eating at you. Such a listening ear may be your parents, a counselor, other responsible adults, or a good friend. You need to express your feelings verbally to someone who can listen. Overcoming self-harm can be a struggle, with many steps forward and backward, but in God’s strength, it is possible.

Lastly, remember that you can always draw strength from prayer, talking to God like you would any friend. Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants . . . but I have called you friends” (John 15:15).