As a parent, hearing about young people harming themselves can be really alarming and difficult to understand. If you suspect that your young person is harming themselves, there is a lot you can do to support.
Why do young people self-harm?
Despite how common self-harm is, there is no ‘typical’ person who engages with it. Often times, it can act as a coping mechanism for negative feelings. The reasons a young person could be engaging in self-harm include:
- Being unable to communicate overwhelming feelings
- Negative body image (‘hating’ oneself)
- Feeling numb (not being able to identify any feelings)
- Self punishment
- To feel in control
- Provides a distraction from problems.
There is sometimes a perception that young people harm themselves to get attention. In fact, many people who self-harm do so in secret and cover it up. But, even if this is not the case, a young person who is self-harming is in need of attention. It is an indicator that something is not right for them and it is important to talk about it.