Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

My 14-year-old daughter keeps cutting herself


​My 14-year-old daughter keeps cutting herself. I don't understand why she does this. I ask her to stop hurting herself, but she says she does it to feel something and now she's addicted to it. She is going through deep depression. Please help me to help her.


Teen Girl

Thank you so much for reaching out. There is no doubt you want your daughter to feel better. Cutting is a very serious issue. Keep open communication with her. It sounds like she is cutting to cope, and not to end her life. But you need to ask her why she does it? You need to know how serious the problem is.

Everybody who cuts does so for a different reason. Some people are experiencing intense emotional pain and cutting provides a release. Some people feel numb and cutting allows them to feel something. Some people feel like their life is out of control and cutting lets them feel like they are in control of something. Whatever the reason, it is important she find something else she can do to provide the same emotional payoff that cutting provides.

You mentioned she is depressed. What type of treatment is she getting for her depression? It certainly is treatable, but sometimes you need extra support. A therapist, a medication, online support in between appointments, and even parents who educate themselves on the diagnosis to better help a child, are options.

You can help her by initially navigating our teen website,, with her. There are plenty of tips on self-harm and alternatives to harming. Your daughter can access a crisis counselor though this site by phone, chat, email, or text, if she needs to talk through something. 

You can also help by removing all sharp objects or putting them under lock and key. Yes, a child can access items outside of the home, but if the job is to help keep her safe, then this is one option. Locked bedroom and bathroom doors can be a privilege, but it is not her right. You may need to up your monitoring with a no lock policy, frequent check-ins, and backpack checks. She may come back with "you do not trust me," but a reply to that is "This is not about trust. This is about your safety and teaching you healthier ways to cope."

Help by validating her feelings and listening to her, as well. Provide encouragement. She is in the habit of self-harming now, but that does not mean she always will self-harm. Post alternatives. Give her a reminder. You can help her form good habits that will give her relief, too.  Call in at any time, and a crisis counselor would be more than happy to visit with you. You can also contact the Nebraska Family Helpline at 1-888-866-8660, to gather more strategies or resources.