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Helping Students Who Are Cutting

My friend AC posted (on his blog yoacblog.com) a great summary about cutting and self-injury after attending a workshop at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this past week. Here’s a clip of his notes, head there for the rest. Might make a solid handout/training for your volunteers:

What is Self-Injury?

It’s listed in the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association as a Borderline Personality Disorder.
Self-harm is a response to a profound and overwhelming emotional pain that cannot be resolved in a more functional way.

What Self-Injury is not!

Self-Injury is not a half-hearted attempt at suicide
Demon Possession
A relationally immature attempt to get attention
Body modification taken to the extreme

Notes: You must understand that it is not an attempt at suicide, but if the cycle continues it could be the result at the end of a fighting battle. The self-injurer is trying to save their life not take it. We must understand that we join them in the fight for their life. While there is definitely a spiritual battle going on, self-injury does not automatically equate to Demon Possession. It’s not just about attention, it’s deeper than that and it needs our full undivided attention.

If you’re interested in a program to help students who deal with tough stuff like this, check out The Landing. Our Landing program meets every Friday night at 7pm – good stuff for hurting students.


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Josh Griffin is high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co-counder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and host of the Youth Ministry Garage Podcast. He's authored more than 20 youth ministry resources and is the author of "99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders" with Doug Fields. Josh is a father of 4 who speaks a little, podcasts a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot. You can find him at DownloadYouthMinistry.com!