I'd like to begin by letting you know that teens who struggle with self-harm get better all the time! There is help. There is hope.
By: Christian T. Hill, MA, LPC Alpine Connection Counseling.
Do you have a friend or teen in your life who is struggling with self-harm? They might be too embarrassed or ashamed to admit it, but self-harm isn't uncommon. It can take many forms, from cutting themselves, burning, or even scratching at their skin until it bleeds. Sometimes people will even bite their lips until they bleed.
It's difficult for these teens to talk about their pain, and some may not know how to start a conversation about this topic. They might even avoid getting help for their emotions and behaviors because they don't know where to begin. It's also common for teens to share images of themselves harming themselves in social media outlets like Facebook or Instagram.
However, this is obviously not a healthy way to cope with your emotions. The problem is that these posts aren't private, and anyone can see them, so it could lead to peer pressure and other problems for the teen who is posting these kinds of photos.
People who self-harm don't want to hurt themselves, but they feel that they don't have a way of coping with their emotions or dealing with life's problems. Tragically, many people think these teens are just "silly" or "provoking" themselves or just going through a phase. They may even feel upset with the teen because the act goes against social norms and parents' values they have instilled in their children.
Self-harm usually encourages even more poor coping skills and is a vicious cycle that promotes additional isolation and hiding. This also makes self-harm a concern for parents or teachers because it can lead to a range of other issues--including depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts--if not treated immediately by professionals.
People who self-harm may believe that they are "damaged goods," which can prevent them from forming attachments with other people and keep them isolated from others. If a teenager is self-harming, it can help them learn how to talk about their feelings in a healthy way.
It's also important to note that many people who self-harm may not understand the severity or repercussions of their actions. They may not comprehend how much damage they are doing to their bodies and will often be afraid of the pain involved with harming themselves, even though they actually feel relief after doing it. Additionally, it is common for teens who self-harm to think that they are "bad". This causes them great shame and guilt, which can fuel even more self-harm thoughts.
If you know a teen who is struggling with self-harm, educate yourself on the facts about the problem and what resources are available to help. Don't dismiss or criticize the teen for their behavior; instead, encourage them in every way possible to seek help.
I am happy to provide you with any free consults or resources to help your loved one struggling with self-harm.
Christian T. Hill, MA, LPC
Alpine Connection Counseling