DEAR ABBY: The thing that comes to mind when I look at my friends is, "How much did you cut today?" It hurts my heart to know they do it. A couple of them do it on their legs. They wear pants in the summer so no one can see the nasty gashes and scars. My other friends do it on their arms and wear long-sleeved shirts or sweatshirts in 80-degree weather. It's scary knowing some of your closest friends do this.
I am only 14, and I am crying out for help. What can I say or do to make them stop? I feel like if I tell them, they'll feel bad and cut more, and I really don't know what to do. I don't think they realize how much this hurts not just them, but me. Please print this soon. -- FRIGHTENED AND WORRIED IN MINNESOTA
DEAR FRIGHTENED: You are right to be worried about your friends. They are in serious trouble. Strange as it may seem, people who cut themselves do it to distract themselves from their emotional pain. Cutting is usually a symptom of a serious emotional problem, and often cutters need professional intervention to stop their compulsion.
One would think that a child's parents would recognize that something was wrong when the young person habitually wears clothing that is inappropriate for the season -- but apparently your friends' parents are too focused on something else to notice.
Your friends are sick, and they're not likely to listen to you at this point. That's why you must tell your parents what is going on, so they can tell the other adults that their children are in need of treatment -- and the sooner the better.