One of the hardest parts of my job is hearing from young people that they are under so much stress that they are planning on hurting themselves. Even worse is when they actually do and when it leads to suicidal thoughts a tragedy could be in the making.
A common method that young people use to hurt themselves is cutting. This is done for a number of reasons. Some do it because they are numb and need to feel something. Others because the scar that they see after brings them a sense of comfort. In all cases it is a cry for help and a sign that mental health support is needed.
Suicidal thoughts and actual attempts occur when the sense of hope is disappearing and the thought of ending their life becomes a legitimate option in their mind. Many people will attempt suicide multiple times and use each attempt as a way to refine their technique. Whether just a serious thought or an actual attempt, suicide is a shout for help.
There are too many pressures on children and teens today to mention here that could lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Bullying, whether in person, online or both, is a very large contributor. When a student is trying hard to succeed and gets low marks, they often will feel they are letting down their families. Social media can connect people while leaving others feeling alone. A lack of “likes” to their social media posts over time can make a teen feel that they are friendless, especially when they see others getting a lot of attention.
The good news is that there are treatment options that can help lower the risk of self-harm and suicide and there are therapists who are trained to help. I think that the first line of defence is caring parents. If you are worried about your child then make sure you let them know that you care. If you think they need counselling then reach out and find a therapist that you think your child can work with. If nothing else works, you can call 911 and get the mobile crisis team in your area involved.
If this is a concern in your family please give me a call. I have worked with many clients who have attempted suicide and have engaged in self-harm and would be open to seeing if I can help you and your family.