What if you cut your wrist

Sarah (16) scratches - "Suddenly everything is full of blood"

"My head says 'don't do it', but my body really wants it. And suddenly everything is covered in blood. The next thing I notice is that I am dabbing the wounds with a handkerchief," says Sarah. Her hair are as blue as her eyes, the voice is firm but sad.

Sarah regularly cuts her forearms with razor blades. Left and right, the brown scars in Sarah's light skin line up from the wrist to high above the elbow and disappear into the T-shirt.

She started in the seventh or eighth grade. Around the time her father got divorced for the second time. First she scratched her arms until the blood ran. Then she built the blade out of her sharpener to cut herself with. Her mother took the sharpener from her, then the penknife, and finally Sarah bought razor blades. "I just need something as sharp as possible."

Sarah repeatedly scratches her skin with the blades. Sometimes every day. She has cut so deeply several times that she was taken to the hospital to show the wounds to a doctor.

“Why?” Asks Sarah's mother. “Why?” Ask her classmates. And others ask themselves the question when they see Sarah's scars. But you don't dare to ask out loud. “I don't know why,” replies Sarah. But she has a feeling: "If the pressure gets too great, I have to do it."

Sarah: “I was actually happy when I stayed seated. So I finally got out of class. "

The pressure. He comes when she argues with someone. When she is quietly annoyed when someone asks "why" again, even though he would not understand the answer anyway.

At school, Sarah became an outsider. “They called me a freak. Or Mundgulli, ”the 16-year-old recalls. Whether she was marginalized because she was depressed and repeatedly had fresh scars on her arms, or, conversely, whether she felt worse and worse because she was marginalized in class - it's hard to separate them. “I would have loved to not go there at all. But I knew that I had to - refusing would not have changed anything. "

When Sarah finally sat down, she was glad to finally get into another class. The fact that her old classmates threw her out of the WhatsApp chat right after the last hour together still hurt her. In the new class things were better at first. But then the pressure increased again and Sarah thought about killing herself. She came to the clinic for child and adolescent psychiatry in Marburg.

There used to be one thing that pulled Sarah from her dark thoughts. She played football for a long time and was also successful. Sport is still the best way for them to relieve pressure. Working out without harming yourself. But since Sarah has knee problems, she is no longer allowed to play football. In the Marburg clinic she is now learning techniques to process her emotions and to resist the will to cut herself. The “skills” range from meditation and eating chilli to snapping hair ties. Instead of cutting herself, ask her to snap a hair tie onto her arms. “But that doesn't really help me. I have bruises on my arm and still hardly feel it, ”says Sarah. She recently hit the wall with her fist so hard at the clinic that a piece of the bone split off.

Sarah: "I want to protect my mother - I don't want to tell her everything that's going on in my head."

When scratching, she falls into a kind of trance. “My body does this without my head. I don't know why I don't cut my veins in the process. ”Although the cuts stop dangerously close to the pulse, Sarah has no intention of killing herself while cutting.

Sarah later wants to be a paramedic or a doctor. “I want to help other people,” she says and then adds ironically: “And I can see blood too.” The 16-year-old is aware that her way of dealing with inner tension is extreme. She knows how her scars affect others. That many people feel sick at the thought of slitting their skin with a razor blade.

“I sometimes wonder why someone would want to be friends with me,” says Sarah. The fear of deterring other people, of causing them distress, seems to build much more pressure on her than worrying about her arms. “A scar more or less,” she says - that doesn't matter anymore.

What Sarah really moves when she goes into her room and picks up the blade, she doesn't want to impose on others.

by Thomas Strothjohann

The Marburg psychiatrist Michael Haberhausen explains in an interview what Sarah's pressure is all about from a medical point of view.


When teenagers are depressed, they need help. According to Jörg Tischler, the coordinator of the Marburg Alliance against Depression, the chances of recovery are very good if recognized and treated in good time. If, on the other hand, depression is not recognized, it leads to unnecessary suffering, endangering those affected and, in the worst case, suicide.
The Alliance against Depression advises those affected and their relatives and, if necessary, provides experts.
Another offer for young people is available online: Fighting Depression Online (fideo). In addition to a therapeutically moderated forum, the website also has a self-test in which young people can find out whether they are suffering from depression: