What parents need to know about self-injury

# What you need to know about self-injury (self-harm, NSSI)

I can tell you first hand, as a parent, finding out that your child is purposely harming themselves is frightening, sad, and confusing. Unfortunately, many parents have to experience this as self-injury remains prominent, with ~25% of all young people engaging in cutting, burning, and other forms of harm.

Yes, we've written about self-injury previously (opens new window), but since March 1st was Self-Injury Awareness Day, we decided to take a deeper look.

In just 90 seconds Dr. Matthew Nock provides a concise overview of why young people harm themselves and is an excellent way to get us started.

click here (opens new window) if the video doesn't load.


# Parenting kids who self-injure

At first glance, it may appear that self-injury is about, or may be a stepping stone toward suicide. Although there maybe a connection between self-injury and suicide (more on that below), there are other reasons why so many kids engage in self-injury. In fact, self-injury is also known as Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI). In this article (opens new window), Dr. Rachel Ehmke explains why kids engage in self-injury, triggers, and getting help.

In addition to having one of the best research program on self-injury, Cornell University also provides helpful and relatable resources (opens new window) for parents dealing with kids who self-injure. A great place to start is with this guide (PDF) specifically for parents, Information for Parents: what you need to know about self-injury (opens new window).

The University of Montana also has an excellent program and resources, which you can see here. One they recommend is the Help Guide, Cutting and Self-Harm: how to feel better without hurting yourself (PDF) (opens new window). In addition to be helpful for parents, there's information designed to help kids.

If your child or a child you know is dealing with self-injury, they may find this guide (PDF) (opens new window) from Cornell University helpful. It has techniques for distraction (from self-injury) and alternative coping strategies. Have a look (opens new window).


# Relationship between NSSI and social media, suicide, and eating disorders

Like the rest of life, NSSI is intertwined with many other parts of life. Cornell University provides some excellent resources to help understand the relationship between NSSI and some of these factors. The following PDFs discuss 3 of the most common and important relationships (in no particular order):


# Self-injury and teens, in their own words

Hunter Kent shares her personal story of depression, family and social isolation, and her use of cutting as a coping mechanism for 3 years.

click here (opens new window) if the video doesn't load.

If you have the time, this movie by filmmaker Wendy Schneider is worth viewing. CUT: Teens and Self-Injury (opens new window) is an in-depth look at self-injury told by the people who lived it every day, for years. image (opens new window)

# Please Tell Your Friends

If you have friends, family members, or co-workers that may benefit from Vertroos Health, please tell them about us. We want to help as many kids and families as possible. You can forward this email to them or direct them to http://vertroos.com. Thanks!

# Do You or Your Child Need Support?

If you or your child are in a crisis situation please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for you and your loved ones.

If you're not in crisis but would like to connect with an online counselor (through our partnership with Betterhelp), please use one of these links: