Self harm in teens: Disturbing links between self harm and suicide

self harm in teens

Self harm in teens: Disturbing links between self harm and suicide

The concept of self harm in teens is a horrifying one for parents; all of whom are deeply troubled by the concept of their precious children cutting, poisoning, or in any way hurting or endangering themselves.

Even more disturbing is the fact that teens stand at a sharply higher risk of suicide in the months immediately following a deliberate attempt at self harm. One-third of young people who die of suicide, in fact, engaged in self harm events sometime during the final three months of their existence. And in a concentrated study of teens who self harm, 17 percent repeated their self harming episodes in the next year, and 0.15 percent committed suicide. Furthermore, those who self harm were 46 times more likely to commit suicide in the year following a nonfatal self harm attempt.

It is now more vital than ever for parents to know and identify the signs of self harm in teens; thus enabling and empowering them to seek needed help for their children, and averting possible tragedy in the process.

How do teens self harm?

Teens self harm in a variety of ways. They might cut themselves with knives or scissors, burn themselves, tear their hair out, ingest toxic substances in an attempt to poison themselves, pick and tear at wounds to prevent their healing, etc.

The physical signs and symptoms of self harm include visible scars, cuts, scratches, burns, bruises, patches of missing hair, and wounds. Additionally, self harm in teens may be evident through the exhibition of certain behavioral cues. The teen might show signs of depression, impulsivity and anxiety, wear long-sleeved shirts at all times, and have problems interacting with others. They might question their own intelligence and talents, and even their very purpose in life.

If you see any signs or indications of self harm in teens, then be sure to address the problem as soon as possible; approaching them in a kind, nonconfrontational manner and discussing any problems or issues they’re currently having, that might be causing this behavior. And if needed, don’t be afraid to reach out to a school counselor, a psychologist or other behavioral professional for help.

Aside from being a horrifying act, an incidence of self harm in teens also can be a cry for help; and as educated parents and guardians, you hold the power to answer the call.


ViewPoint Center Can Help

ViewPoint Center is a teen assessment center designed for teens aged 12-17. The center offers assessment and treatment options for a variety of mental, emotional and behavioral issues affecting today’s young people. For more information, visit or call 855-290-9682.


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