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Self Harm

 ImageParents who feel their child has become troubled or withdrawn may be worried that they are self-harming as a cry for help.

It helps to look at the meaning of self harm as it can cover a range of things that people do to themselves in a deliberate and harmful way. These can include:

cutting - burning - scalding - head banging - hair pulling - self poisoning or overdosing.

By injuring themselves, children and young people are asserting a form of self control on their life which they feel is otherwise chaotic and meaningless.

Self harm is a way of coping, and of channelling frustration and other strong emotions. Those who self harm do not go on to commit suicide in the vast majority of cases - it is rather as if this is a way of letting of steam, a safety valve.

It is difficult to give specific guidance on how to spot self harming because most children who are self harming themselves are very skilled at hiding the facts.

They often have very strong persuasive arguments when asked if they are OK, or why they have cuts or burns on their body.

A few clues on spotting self harm over and above the physical symptoms:
 

  • Your child may seem very down and talk about failing or unhappiness.
  • They may take to wearing many layers of clothes, never exposing their arms for instance.
  • They may have an unusual number of injuries or accidents and may be very reluctant to be treated for these injuries.
  • Eating disorders are seen to be linked to self harming as are disrupted sleep patterns.

 (Source: ParentlinePlus)