Prevention Works!

Suicide & Self Harm

WHY?
Suicide FAQs
Self-harm FAQs
LGBTQ FAQs
Warning Signs
How to Help
Statistics
Depression & Suicide
Restricting the Means
After an Attempt
After a Suicide

Resources & Links

Brochures & Posters
Websites
Books
Videos
LGBTQ Resources
For the Media

Youth: Make a Difference

Managing Stress
Depression & Self-injury
Bullying & Suicide
Helping a Friend
Talking with an Adult
Coping after a Suicide
Prevention at School

Adults: Take Action

In Your Community
Get Organized
Get Educated
Get Active
Stay Active

Understanding Self Harm

Print Page

 


 

1. What is self-harm?

Non-fatal intentional behavior that results in actual tissue damage, illness or risk of death.



Back to top


2. Who self-harms?

Self-harm is correlated with the following behaviors and symptoms but is NOT caused by these:
  • depression
  • loneliness/isolation
  • hopelessness
  • perfectionism
  • impulsivity
  • impaired family communication
  • anxiety
  • self-blaming
  • low self-esteem
  • hypercritical parents
  • awareness of self-harm by peers

Back to top

 

3. Why do teens self-harm?

Reasons vary, but tend to fall into one of these categories:
  • to stop bad feelings
  • to feel something
  • to avoid doing something unpleasant
  • to get a reaction

Back to top

 

4. Is a teen who self-harms also suicidal?

Typically teens who self-harm are trying to feel better, while a teen who attempts suicide is trying to end all feelings, BUT... the intent of the behavior can vary and needs to be assessed. Self-harm can be a risk factor for suicide; the higher the frequency of self-harm, the greater the risk for suicide.

Back to top

 

5. What can be done about a teen who is self-harming?

  • Don't react with criticism or horror
  • Remain non-judgmental; let the teen know that you care
  • Understand that the behavior is a coping mechanism
  • Validate the emotion that triggered the behavior, not the behavior
  • Get professional help that will provide the teen greater insight into their emotional states and replace the self-harming behavior with effective coping skills (see below, questions for interviewing and selecting a therapist)

Back to top

 

6. Suggested Interview Questions for Therapist

  • Have you previously treated children and/or adolescents who were cutting or intentionally hurting themselves?
  • If so, what is your theoretical orientation to treating this behavior?
  • How do you involve parents/guardians in the treatment?
  • How do you balance confidentiality between the patient and the parent?
  • Do you tend to recommend medication for the teens that you are treating for self-harm?

Whatever their theoretical approach, the therapist should be able to explain it to you in a specific, understandable fashion. Preferably their approach is focused less on understanding why your child is engaged in self-harming behavior and more on teaching and reinforcing coping skills.

If the therapy is not making sense to you or if you feel that your child is not making adequate progress, talk with the therapist. Be an advocate for your child and consider interviewing and selecting another therapist. The first therapist may not be a “match” with your child.

 

Back to top


DOWNLOAD
RESOURCES
FREE Self-Injury Brochures
WA State Alcohol Drug Clearinghouse
Need Help Now? | Curriculum | Training | Bullying & LGBTQ | About YSPP | Contact | Donate | Sitemap | Search | Login
Email YSPP | (206) 297-5922
Copyright 2001-2011 Youth Suicide Prevention Program All Rights Reserved