Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Harold Keller, Ph.D.


Self-harm, Self-mutilation, Stress relief, High school, Qualitative interviews


The present study examined the experience of self-cutting, what stops adolescent girls from engaging in self-cutting, and what message adolescent girls who are self-cutting would want to send to other girls taking part in this behavior. Using an existential-phenomenological method of interviewing, adolescent girls were asked a serious of questions in order to gain insight into their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about the experience of self-cutting. Each interview was tape recorded, transcribed, and thematized. The participants in this study were labeled co-researchers due to the significant role that they had in the completion of this study. The co-researchers consisted of six adolescent girls aged 15 to 18 years old. They all attended high schools within a large urban school district in Florida. Through a reduction of the data obtained during the interviews, five superordinate themes were discovered for the first research question, which examined the experience of self-cutting. The themes depicted the following experience. Before engaging in self-cutting, each co-researcher had "A Lot of Feelings" stemming from "A Big Event" that they needed to "Release." They chose cutting because "Nothing [else] Ever Worked" and the act of cutting made them "Numb" and feel "No Pain." Themes developed from the second research question, which examined what stops adolescent girls from self-cutting, included "Thinking About the People Who Care" or when "Thinking About the Consequences" of cutting. If they could send a message to other girls who are cutting, the co-researchers in this study would say "Don't Do It." The co-researchers were able to articulate other coping strategies to serve the same function as cutting but sometimes refused to implement them. Results of this study support the findings of previous research.