What is causing this dangerous and risky behavior? Is it peer pressure? Is it stress related? What is so emotionally painful that your child is burying it by the physical pain of cutting?
Is self-harming a form of mental illness?
It’s important to understand that a teen who is a self-injurer is not mentally ill. Self-injury is not merely a way to get attention. Even though the self-injurer may not feel the pain while inflicting the wound, he or she will feel pain afterward.
Thus, such injuries should not be brushed aside as mere manipulation, nor should the teen be made fun of for being different. Self-injury should be taken seriously by friends and family. Trust and compassion can make a world of difference.
Cutting verses suicide is another issue parents are concerned about.
People who self-injure to get rid of bad feelings are not necessarily suicidal. Self-injury is almost the opposite. Instead of wanting to end their lives, those who inflict physical harm to themselves are desperate to find a way to get through the day without feeling horrible.
Again, this doesn’t mean you dismiss this as not an important problem, these are big issues.
Though the two concepts are different, self-injury should not be brushed aside as a small problem. The very nature of self-injury is physical damage to one’s body. It’s important for the self-injurer to seek help at once.
Can you stop your child from self-harming?
A person may not be able to stop injuring themselves “cold turkey.” But seeing a counselor or joining a support group will likely help to ease the frequency and severity of self-injury. Intense negative feelings may cause a person to feel isolated from the rest of the world, so a social support system is important to fight self-injury.
There are effective treatment strategies for those who self-injure. The forms and causes of self-injury are unique to each individual. A psychologist or counselor will be able to tailor a treatment strategy to each person.
If you have exhausted your local resources and local therapy, support groups as well as outpatient treatment is not working – please contact us for information on residential therapy.