What Causes Teen Self-Harm?


Self-harm is a serious issue that affects many teens and is often misunderstood by that outside of the experience. As such, it’s important to understand what causes self-harm and how parents and guardians can help their teens cope with these behaviors. This blog will provide insight into the causes of teen self-harm and tips for helping those who are struggling.

What Causes Teen Self-Harm?

Self-harm is not always an indicator of mental illness, but it can be a sign of psychological distress or emotional pain. The most common cause of teen self-harm is unresolved trauma from childhood or recent events. Abuse, neglect, bullying, or other traumatic experiences can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, guilt, and shame.

These feelings can manifest in physical pain as well as emotional pain—which often leads to teens engaging in self-harming behaviors like cutting or burning themselves. Other potential causes include stress from school or family issues, genetic predisposition to mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, substance abuse, or a lack of coping skills.

Family Issues

Family dynamics can play an important role in teen self-harm. If a teen is raised in an environment where they feel unsupported, neglected, or constantly criticized, they may turn to self-harm as a way to cope with their feelings or express their pain. This doesn’t necessarily mean that parents are responsible for their child’s self-harming behavior; rather, it could point to underlying issues within the family dynamic that needs to be addressed.

Symptoms & Warning Signs

It’s important for parents and guardians to be aware of the warning signs that may indicate a teen is engaging in self-harming behavior.

Some common warning signs include unexplained wounds (such as cuts), social withdrawal/isolation from friends/family members, changes in mood (such as irritability), difficulty concentrating/sleeping/eating, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, talking about feeling hopelessness/worthlessness/guilt/shame/anxiety, expressing suicidal thoughts or making plans for suicide.

It’s also important to look out for any changes in behavior such as dressing differently than usual (to hide wounds) or avoiding certain activities (like swimming).

Help & Support For Teens Who Self-Harm

If you suspect your teen is engaging in self-harming behavior it’s important to get them to help immediately. Talk openly with your teen about their feelings and encourage them to talk about what’s causing them distress.

If needed reach out to mental health professionals for advice on treatment options available for your teen; these may include therapy sessions with a therapist who specializes in helping people cope with trauma-related issues, medication management if necessary (under the supervision of a psychiatrist), group therapy sessions with peers who are dealing with similar issues, etc.

Additionally it’s important to create a safe space where your teen can express their emotions without fear of judgment; this could involve setting up regular family meetings so everyone can talk openly about their feelings without interruption and have time set aside specifically for your teen(s) if needed as well.

Lastly, make sure all household members understand that self-harm is not acceptable under any circumstances and emphasize that there are better ways for teens to deal with difficult emotions like talking through their problems instead of hurting themselves physically.

The effects of teenage self-harm can be long-lasting which is why it’s so important for parents and guardians to be aware of the symptoms and warning signs associated with this issue.

By understanding what causes teenage self-harm, providing support when needed, creating an open dialogue amongst family members, and seeking professional help if necessary , we can work together towards preventing long-term damage caused by teenage self harm. With the right resources, support, guidance, and love – anything is possible!

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I am Jessica Moretti, mother of 1 boy and 2 beautiful twin angels, and live in on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia. I started this blog to discuss issues on parenting, motherhood and to explore my own experiences as a parent. I hope to help you and inspire you through simple ideas for happier family life!


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