Experts: Nearly 2 In 10 Teens Cut Themselves To Cope With Stress

By Paul Burton, WBZ-TV

BELMONT (CBS) – Sixteen-year old Victoria Kountz says no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t stop cutting herself.

“My thoughts were constantly about hurting myself. It’s an addiction like anything else,” Victoria told WBZ-TV.

She would use a blade, a pair of scissors, or anything sharp she could get her hands on.

“I did it an average 6 times a day. Normally I carried a blade on me,” Victoria said.

Experts say 18-percent of adolescents will self-injure themselves in their teenage years.

“It’s more common than people think. I know a lot of my friends have done it and still are doing it,” Victoria said.

(Photo courtesy: Victoria Kountz)

(Photo courtesy: Victoria Kountz)

“The statistics are a little bit higher for college-aged kids,” Dr. Michael Hollander of McLean Hospital said.

For Victoria the cutting started two years ago during her freshman year in high school.

She says she did it because she had a hard time fitting in and was battling depression. Cutting gave her a sense of relief.

“The first time I cut myself, it kind of distracted me from everything I was thinking and it felt like I had a sense of control,” Victoria said.

Doctors says teens do feel relief.

“There’s a calming affect that alters your mood. It works really quite well and very quickly,” Dr. Hollander said.

The cutting became so bad for Victoria her parents had to put her in the hospital.

“The part that hurt me the lowest was around 2 or 3 in the morning, when I had to make that decision and send my daughter into the hospital and relinquish full control,” Victoria’s dad Robert Kountz remembers, fighting back tears.

“It’s heartbreaking. When we first found out about it, I didn’t know anything about it,” her mother Wendy.

Many teens hide the problem from their parents with long sleeves or pants.

“If it’s hot and people start asking questions, it’s bracelets all the way up (the arm),” Victoria said.

But doctors say there are signs.

“Bloody tissues in the wastebasket or a bloody razor,” Dr. Hollander said. “While it works in calming you down in the short run, it doesn’t give a person a chance to try and solve things.”

After months of therapy and treatment Victoria is doing much better.

She recently returned from a missions trip where she had the chance to work with children in need.

“I want to be a psychologist and help people when I grow up,” Victoria said.

Her parents are thrilled.

“She has a need and a purpose in life and to see her smile again, it’s awesome. I got my daughter back,” Bob Kountz said.

For more information on dealing with teen cutting, visit kidshealth.org and webmd.com.

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