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Helping Teens who Hurt Themselves

Self-harm is a coping mechanism –and an ineffective one. It’s common among teens, and studies give consistent estimate that 15-20% of teens do self-harm at one time or another.

Generally, 70-90% of self-harm falls under the category of cutting, which includes: self-hitting, scratching, head banging, burning, inserting objects under the skin. Extreme forms of self-injury include: bone breaking, limb amputation, and eye enucleation.

A young person or teen who’s extremely distressed (who’s seeking relief through self-harm) typically battles with ongoing questions about personal identity, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. The most striking marker of a person who self harms is their problem with emotional numbness.

In her lecture, Dr. Laurie Craigen talks about Self Injury Knowledge and Skills. Although there are explanations as to why teens self-harm, no one really fully knows the reason why. It’s important to gain understanding that there's interplay of environmental, psychological, and biological factors for each case.

How to help someone who self harms?

  1. Ask them if they're doing self harm. Being direct is best. But also be clear that your goal is to help them, and not to judge or punish.

  2. Acknowledge their pain. Let them know you understand their feeling is valid.

  3. Identify alternative activities they can do when they feel the urge to self harm. This is to help them express their emotions in a healthier way: go for a walk, draw, call a friend.

  4. Seek help from mental health professionals

  5. Help them write a list of people they feel comfortable to talk to for support system.

  6. Enable them to voice their emotions. Let their voice be heard: “What are the wounds saying? What are the scars saying about you?”

  7. Be patient with them. Self-harm has addictive qualities. Once they’ve developed the habit, it’s hard to break.

Find out more about getting your teen to talk to you but calling Jarvis Hypnotherapy today.


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