Learn About Self Harm In Adolescents

What is Self-Harm and What Causes It?

Self-harm is a ritualistic behavior that children, in their teenage years, sometimes engage in. They might cut their skin or scratch it until it bleeds. Some cutting behaviors on the arms can look like suicide attempts, but they are not. Children who engage in self-harming behavior do not always have the intention to commit suicide but they do have a higher risk of suicide.

There are a couple different explanations for self-injury. Some are so emotionally guarded that they feel nothing. The cutting is a way to feel something, even if it’s pain. For others, self-harm is a distraction from more severe emotional pain. Figuring out the reason for self-harm is often difficult and requires skilled professional help. Effective treatment includes identifying the reasons why clients engage in self-harming behavior and what other factors are involved in maintaining the client’s on-going self-harming behavior.

Dangers of Self-Injury

Physically cutting or scratching the skin can leave kids vulnerable to serious infections. The skin is the barrier of protection the body has to keep harmful viruses and bacteria out. People who engage in self-injury are constantly nursing an open wound. That wound can easily get infected, and the infection can spread to other areas of the body.

Self-harming behavior can and often will escalate without treatment. People who engage in self-harming behavior have a higher risk of suicide. The cutting, scratching or hitting is done in response to emotional pain, not the physical pain it causes. It is possible for a child to go too far with the injurious behavior and end up doing more damage than intended. Cutting on the arms, for example, can result in extreme medical emergency or death.

The psychological dangers of self-injury are similar to addiction. The injurious behavior provides a reward for the child – a release of tension or a counterbalance to emotional pain. Any emotional pain can trigger self-harm, and the behaviors will be practiced more often to achieve the relief your child is searching for.

Signs Your Child May Be Engaging in Self-Harm

Many children try to hide self-injury from their parents. They know it’s wrong, but they can’t stop. If you detect these signs, your child may need help:

  • Open wounds that don’t heal
  • Cuts in the same place
  • Wearing long sleeves in warm weather
  • Visible scars
  • Talking about self injury
  • Using a lot of band aids
  • Refusing to change clothes in the locker room
  • Collecting sharp objects

Atlanta’s Trusted Self-Harm and Suicidal Ideation Treatment Center for Teens

Contact Hillside for more information on self-harming behaviors or if you think your child may be engaging in self-injurious behavior. We offer both outpatient and residential programs for mental health at our self-injury treatment center in Georgia which focuses exclusively on children and teens. Our philosophy is to treat the child and bring in the parents to be part of the long-term solution. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has been proven to be extremely effective in treating self-harming behavior and we have seen great results in our clients.

It is important to choose the right self-harm treatment facility to treat your child’s self-injurious behavior. With our focus on children and teens and a fully trained staff in DBT, Hillside might be the right place for you. We offer treatment for suicidal ideation and self harm among Georgia youth. Contact us for more information today!