Self Harm in Young People & How to Help
Learning or thinking that a child in your life may be self harming can be overwhelming and worrisome. If you've found yourself in this situation, the following information may be helpful.
Self harm is often used a means to cope with difficulties or hard circumstances and is often seen as separate from having suicidal thoughts, although you can be both self harming and have thoughts of suicide. It's important to consult with a counsellor or a mental health professional to make sure your young person is staying safe.
The following are some common warning signs thats someone may be self harming:
- The young person offers excuses for wounds or injuries that just don't seem to fit. ex. I fell, got scratched by a cat etc.
- You find razor blades, glass, and other sharp items missing or in spots they typically would not be found in.
- The young person is wearing clothing that completely covers their body, which may be not typical for them or for the weather. ex. long sleeves on a hot day.
- You notice new scars on their body combined with the above information.
- The young person is withdrawn, sensitive, and negative about themselves.
The following are some ways you can help:
- Be present, open, and try hard to reserve judgment.
- Be sure to remind the young person you are here to help them and they are not going to get into trouble.
- Be sure to acknowledge that you see the scars, and that you are worried about them.
- Be sure to offer them access to a helping professional. A school counsellor or counsellor you seek out may be a good start if you don't feel they are an imminent danger to themselves.
- Be sure to provide the young person to access to a help line. In Calgary, ConncTeen operates 24 hours a day and also has access to chat. They can be reached by phone at 403.264.8336 and by text at 587.333.2724
If you have questions or would like some support for your young person, Sprout Counselling is here to help.