Understanding and Recognizing Self-Harm in Teens
Self-harm is a real and dangerous problem, especially in teenage girls. One in twelve teens will self-harm and as many as 10-percent will continue that practice into young adulthood.
As Raychelle Cassada Lohmann writes for Psychology Today, many of those experiencing self-harm are reluctant to get the help they need because of the judgment that they feel will come with it. As with any mental health problem, people view those that need treatment differently than someone with a physical ailment. Mental illnesses can also be viewed as weaknesses.
This worry about how other’s will perceive them prevents a self-injurer from getting better. Family counseling is often the first step. When the family understands the situation better, they can reassure the member who is suffering.
One major misconception about self-harm is that it is simply part of adolescence. This can make things much worse. It’s as if you are telling a teen that a very real and harmful problem they are dealing with is trivial and not real.
If you have a teenager at home or if you know someone who may be at risk of self-harm, recognize the warning signs.
- injuries to the wrists, arms, legs, back, hips or stomach
- baggy or loose clothes even on hot days (to hide wounds)
- Finding razors, scissors, lighters or knives in strange places in a teen’s bedroom.
- Isolation and avoidance of social situations
Self-harm is a cry for help. If you know someone who you suspect may be suffering, reach out to them and get them the help they need.