Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

It is a common misconception that if someone is cutting themselves, that they are trying to kill themselves. Sometimes when people hurt themselves, they are trying to relieve some sort of emotional pain or tension. When they are experiencing negative and emotional thoughts, they may self-harm to regain a sense of control of their bodies and pain. Some may self-harm because they have felt numb for so long that they are looking to feel something, anything, and resort to physical pain. Often physical pain is easier to see and pay attention to than internal and mental pain, that they may be trying to make their internal experience more valid or worthy of concern and attention. Others may find it difficult to express themselves or communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs. When the words are not available, they may express them physically. They may be hurting themselves to draw attention in hopes of getting the help they need.

As a parent, I am sure you are feeling a wide range of emotions if you just found out your child is self-harming. You might be experiencing concern, guilt, sadness, shame, worry, anger, and even confusion. It is important to recognize that there are mental health professionals that can help you and your child cope with this very serious issue.

Pay Attention to Warning Signs

Notice if your child is socially withdrawing, avoiding time with friends and family. Notice your child’s mood- Are they still interested in the activities they usually enjoy? Are they more irritable than normal? Are they expressing feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or failure and shame?

Start the Conversation

It can be uncomfortable to talk to your child when they are having a hard time, but showing them that you are a safe person they can rely on and go to during difficult times will make all of the difference in the world. Here are some ideas of what you can say below:

  • How can I support you through this?
  • Is there anything you need from me?
  • I am here for you; you can talk to me.
  • I love you and nothing is ever going to change that.
  • We can get through this together.

Your child is probably scared of how you will react to them harming themselves. Try your best to remain calm and listen to what your child has to say. This is not the time for lectures or punishment. Reacting this way may cause your child to be less likely to open up to you about this in the future. Be patient, stay calm, and help your child get the professional help they need.

Consider Family and Individual Therapy

There may be changes in your child’s life that are triggering this behavior. A parental divorce or job loss, death in the family, family conflict, bullying at school or online, and other concerns may be impacting your child and can be processed within the therapeutic setting. You and your child can express your thoughts and feelings in a safe place while also learning coping skills to better manage pain and suffering.

If you or someone you know has a child or friend that is self-injuring and are feeling lost on what to do or how to help, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are more than happy to help you through this challenging time.

Speak Your Mind


Send a Message

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.