Teen feels helpless to stop friends who cut themselves

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.


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.

DEAR ABBY: I went to college for two years after high school and did not find one bit of enjoyment in anything I was studying. Now, at 23, I work in a business owned by a friend and do a bit of acting on the side, which I love.

My problem is that I am judged by people I hardly know for my career choices. I get questions like, "Have you gone back to school yet?" and "When are you planning to go back to school?"

I was recently outraged when a family friend asked me what my fiance does for a living (construction), and if he had finished college (he did not). Abby, this woman actually asked me why I was going to marry him!

What most people don't know is, I do plan to return to school and study architecture. However, I do not feel I should have to explain my every move to these people, especially when they obviously don't care about my feelings. Most of the time I give them a disgusted look and walk away, but I'm tired of feeling like I'm running away from them. What is a polite way of telling them that my decisions are none of their business?


DEAR "UNEDUCATED": Having a college degree is an asset, but no guarantee of success &

and people in the trades also can earn a very good living. (Just ask anyone who has tried to hire a plumber, electrician or someone to remodel a home.)

You are under no obligation to confide your career plans to anyone who asks. Just smile and say, "I'm planning on winning the lottery."

Dear Abby is written by , also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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