From the National Runaway Safeline: Anna's Story
The National Runaway Safeline serves as the Family and Youth Services Bureau's federally mandated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth. The Chicago organization offers a crisis hotline and online services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to youth at risk of running away, those who have run away or are homeless, and their families. Runaway Reality, a regular feature on the National Runaway Safeline's blog, highlights the stories of young people and families who contact the hotline. This installment is about Anna*, a teen who has been cutting in order to deal with the trauma she has been experiencing at home. Here's an excerpt:
One of the most difficult issues our crisis services deal with are teens who cut themselves.
Cutting is a form of behavior that is categorized as self-harm. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, self-harm means hurting yourself on purpose. It is a sign of emotional distress. Cutting oneself with a knife or a razor is a coping mechanism that is most often seen among teens and young adults. These are individuals who have experienced trauma.
The self-injury can stimulate a body’s endorphins or pain-killing hormones, and raise the person’s mood. The person is momentarily relieved from their mental anguish. However, the cycle may continue, as the person may feel shame about committing the act, and cut again to cover up the pain.
Anna, age 17, called Monday night. She received our number from a friend who had called about a problem several weeks ago. Anna was shy when she started talking and wasn’t really sure what to say other than there wasn’t anything horribly bad going on, but sometimes she has a hard time dealing with her feelings.
*Names and details have been changed to respect anonymity.
More About the National Runaway Safeline
Get the updated version of the National Runaway Safeline's Let's Talk: Runaway Prevention Curriculum.