It is important to recognize that self-harm does not discriminate against gender, race, culture, and economic background. Adults, Teens, Children, both Male and Female struggle with this issue in our culture today. It is a behavior that over time becomes habitual, chronic and even repetitive in an effort to cope with an overwhelming and distressing feeling or situation.
An epidemic of self-injury is occurring among pre-teens and adolescents ages 12 to 19. Over 10% of teenagers are thought to have at least experimented with self-injury/harm/mutilation.
Children, teens and young adults engaging in self-harm behaviors, such as cutting, scratching and burning in order to manage strong and intense emotions, can regain a sense of control and find new peace of mind through exploring their motives and adopting new coping skills. Self-harm behaviors are habit forming, physically destructive, and can lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors. The path to recovery is in developing strong, caring relationships, avoiding secrets, seeking counsel, and learning new ways of calming oneself.
Most commonly, self-harming behavior is a coping mechanism to deal with emotional pain, stress, or trauma.
Being observant can often uncover early signs of self-injury:
- An abnormal number of cuts/burns on the wrists, arms, legs, hips or stomach (this is not an exhaustive description however, marks can be present on any part of the body)
- Wearing of long sleeves and pants even in warm weather
- Frequent ‘accidents’ that cause physical injury
- Evidence that your teenager’s friends are self-harming
- Finding razors, knives. matches in strange locations
- Abnormal or excessive amounts of time in their bedroom or bathroom, or alone in general
Please call or book an appointment to discuss your confidential needs. Or, if you prefer to learn about this prior to making an appointment, there is a DVD called “Why Kids Cut: Exploring the Motive and Goals of Self-Harm” found under our Outreach tab under Courageous Living.