“My knife got all messy”

This morning I was sitting on the local train going to work, minding my own business and reading my morning paper. Next to me were a young girl and a young boy, maybe around sixteen years old. She was wearing a lot of dark make-up around her eyes and the guy looked pretty ordinary. What got my attention was when I started overhearing a part of their conversation (starting with her):

– My knife got all messy after that.
– You got to stop doing that crap!
– Why should I?
– Since it’s wrong! It’s bad for you!
– But I like it, and the pain is excillerating… smiling, pulling up one of her shirt’s arms and caressing a spot on it.
However, it took longer to heal than what I had expected.
Then both were quiet for a while.

My take of this was that she’s cutting herself for the kicks of it; it didn’t seem like they were joking around. I sat there dumbfounded for a while, thinking “what the hell should I do? Should I say something?”. Before I came to any conclusion they got off at the next station.

I have no idea how to handle such a situation. However, part of me stil feels quilty and worried for not acting. I mean, most of us complain that people in our society never care when something happens, and I feel just like one of those “don’t give a damn”-persons…


  • pollas says:

    You could have pulled an Indiana Jones on her; "That's not a knife, this is a knife!", hoping she would somehow see how she was playing thw wrong way…then again…

    On a serious note, it's definately not an easy one. Good thing is, people around her obviously keep telling her she's not all that cool….

  • I can (at least partly understand) how you feel. I once was in a similar situation – my sister and I were standing in a queue at McDonald's, behind two boys (about 12 years old). The were talking about the girl in front of them, because she had scars on her arms. Suddenly, the girl began to scream at them that the should shut the fuck up and look for themselves. It was quite strange …

    Howere, pollas, wasn't it Crocodile Dundee who said that thing about his knife when this street gang wants to rob him in N.Y.?

  • Jim says:

    I have a friend who went through the whole self-injury thing. Self injurers hide it, they don't show off about it. This just sounds like a dumb kid who wants to sound cool. In any case, don't worry about not doing anything – if her friends know, then there's nothing you can do for her that they can't.

    And yes, it was Croc Dundee :).

  • Robert Nyman says:


    It seems like her friends are telling her and I can just hope things work out fine. I really want to believe it was just a dumb kid thing…


    That sounds like a very uncomfortable situation.

    And since we, for some strange reason, is also on the topic of Crocodile Dundee: I've been on the hill (Ubirr Rock) in Australia that is depicted in the movie, where they have this dialogue:

    – Where did you get your scar?

    – Over there (pointing to the far distance)

  • Mike says:

    My wife was a cutter when I met her. It wasn’t something I knew right away, and certainly freaked me out when I discovered it. It was a long road of tears and talking before she was able to step away from this. Along the way, this is what I came to understand her mindset to be:

    She didn’t cut herself to be ‘cool’ or ‘goth’ or because she hated herself in anyway. She, like most cutters, was FAR from suicidal. (I know I personally was surprised to learn this) The best way I can describe her train of thought is this : she cut herself in order to put things in perspective. When you’re hurt, (cut and bleeding in this case) your mind tends to ignore everything but the here and now. You snap back into survival mode, and suddenly focus all of your attention to the the pain that is screaming at you.

    Her root problem was not that she hated herself, or the way she looked, or because she had a death wish. The source of all of this was that she had a difficult time dealing with stress and emotions. She would often find herself impossibly overwhelmed, and in an attempt to return things to balance and focus her mind she would cut herself.The pain was her ticket out of the woods.

    After I found out she did this we were up many late nights crying and talking; trying to find understanding and a solution. I explained how much it hurt me emotionally, but that I was going to be there for her no matter what. We spent much of the time discussing how I handle stress attempting to see if these methods would help her at all. Eventually she began to ‘stop and breathe’ and ‘count to ten’ before heading for her razors. She then would sit down with me to help get the overwhelming emotions out of her system verbally rather then bottling them up; eventually leading to physical injury.

    This whole process took alot of commitment from not only her, but myself as well since many of these episodes happened at night and would lead to conversations that lasted well past bedtime. 😉

    I dont know if all of this matters this much to you guys, but I figured you seemed to be somewhat interested and I might just have a few answers for you. Reviewing your accounts of the story, I would think that yes, this girl is looking for some attention… but for two reasons. #1 It’s cool to have a ‘problem’ and have people think you’re some sort of rebel. #2 She probably also wants someone to know so that they can get a read on how its being accepted. Is it crazy? Is the person concerned? Will this person help me if I need it?

    Mainly, she’s probably just a teenager looking for a bit of attention… but then again there could be a few more things behind it as well. All in all, I wouldn’t worry about her taking her life but she really should speak with a professional.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Thank you. I really appreciate you wanting to share, and I believe it's important for people to hear about this and to get a bigger perspective.

    I'm sorry if the Crocodile Dundee comments felt inappropriate to you, I guess it's an easy escape to joke your way out when talking about serious things.

    When it comes to it being cool to have a problem, I remember back when I was teenager, it seemed like every other person said that they had made a suicide attempt. Not sure that all of them had, but I believe in some cases it was more of a cry for attention: either to come off as cool and wild or, as you say, to see how the surroundings would react to it.

    I'm happy to hear that things worked out for you and your wife. All the best to you!

  • pollas says:

    Damnation. Got Indy and Croc all mixed up, sorry. Funny thing is, I checked up on the quote on Google. Apparantly I'm not alone 😉

  • Mike says:


    No worries mate. I personally found no offense in the Croc Dundiee reference. I'm glad I was able to shed more light on this subject for you guys.

  • Johan L says:

    Robert how come you post messages here at 16:58? Aren't you suppose to work for ME then? 😉

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Well, working day was over and I use my coffee breaks for this instead! 🙂

  • Michael says:

    I did a search recently for "my wife cuts herself" and I came upon this site. I'm wondering if Mike, who wrote last October about his wife cutting herself, could send me an email. I discovered that my wife was a cutter while we were dating. She cut herself once then and then again last night. I thought we were out of the woods with the cutting issue but I was wrong. We got into an arguement late at night and she got to a point where she couldn't express what she was feeling and I had apparently boxed her into an emotional corner. She went into the bathroom and cut her self about ten times with a razor. They were'nt lethal cuts, just enough to cause pain. I went into the bathroom to see what she was doing and blood was covering a small section of her wrist. I didn't know what to do. I felt like she was trying to hurt me by cutting herself but she kept saying "it's not about you". I just need to talk to someone about it and I don't want to share it with anyone I know because I'll feel like I'm betraying her.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    I'm really sorry to hear that. I've sent an e-mail to Mike and asked him to read your comment. Then, naturally, it's up to him if he wants to get in touch.

    Good luck. I do hope things work out.

  • Mike says:

    Robert. Thank you for the email. I'd be glad to speak with Michael.

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