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Cutting Class

A mother’s perspective on self-harm 


Reprinted from "Young People: Self-Injury" issue of Visions Journal, 2017, 13 (2), p. 17

I recall my girl, prettiest doll ever: blond curly hair, the bluest eyes, her grandfather’s dimples, and a smile that lit up the universe—a sight to see, like a glimpse of the dancing northern lights. Her inner core pure, strong and true: my kind-hearted, loving Leo, Sierra.*

Leave Self-Harm Behind

Packing properly for your mental health journey

Amrita Sunner

Reprinted from "Young People: Self-Injury" issue of Visions Journal, 2017, 13 (2), p. 11

When I was four, I had my first panic attack. I didn’t know it was a panic attack at the time. I remember sweating a lot, my vision blurring and sounds fading away; everything slowed down and then sped up. I remember wishing that other people would notice and do something to help.

Nonsuicidal Self-Injury

It is important that people in a position to recognize NSSI and provide help—including health professionals, school officials and parents—have an accurate understanding of the behaviour. Nonsuicidal self-injury is often misunderstood and even stigmatized. This article provides clear, accurate, evidence-based information about NSSI and also dispels some common misconceptions.

Editor's Message

I don’t remember self-injury (the preferred term, less vague than ‘self-harm’) being a thing when I was in high school in the early 90s. Maybe it’s always been there but was just well hidden; maybe it is actually more common now. When 15–20% of young people report at least one episode of nonsuicidal self-injury, it’s something we all need to understand better.


Self-injury means that you hurt yourself on purpose, but you don’t intend to die as a result. It isn’t a mental illness—and in many cases, it isn’t a sign that someone has a mental illness. Instead, self-harm is usually a way to deal with difficult feelings or show distress.


Treatments: What Works?

It seems like everyone has an opinion when it comes to treatments for mental health or substance use problems. To add to the confusion, it isn’t always obvious who is basing their opinions on real evidence and who is not. And while we often hear people talk about evidence-based treatments, it’s also clear that complementary and alternative medicine approaches are helpful for some.


Learn more about self-harm. Self-harm (also called self-injury) means that you hurt yourself on purpose, but don’t want to end your life. It’s often a way to cope with difficult feelings or experiences. Self-harm itself isn’t a mental illness, but it is a sign that someone needs extra support.

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