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Self-Harm in Adolescents:

Self-Harm in Adolescents Breanna Campbell Weber State University Dr. Schvaneveldt


Self-Harm Self-harm/cutting: Nonsuicidal self-injury, often simply called self-injury, is the act of deliberately harming the surface of your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It is typically not meant as a suicide attempt. Rather, this type of self-injury is an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration (Mayo Clinic, 2016).

Signs and Symptoms:

Signs and Symptoms Scars Fresh cuts, scratches, bruises or other wounds Excessive rubbing of an area to create a burn Keeping sharp objects on hand Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather Difficulties in interpersonal relationships Persistent questions about personal identity Behavioral and emotional instability, impulsivity and unpredictability Statements of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness


Most adolescents were not taught or shown to self-harm but rather as a coping method when they are incapable of dealing with their emotions.

Forms of self-injury:

Forms of self-injury Cutting Scratching Burning (with lit matches, cigarettes or hot, sharp objects like knives or scissors) Carving words or symbols into skin Hitting or punching Piercing the skin with sharp objects Pulling out hair Persistently picking at or interfering with wounds healing.


Self-injury usually occurs in private and is done in a c ontrolled or ritualistic manner that often leaves a p attern on the skin. Most frequently, the arms. Legs and front of the torso are the targets of self-injury, but any area of the b ody may be used for self-injury. p eople who self-injure may use more than one method to h arm themselves. The research done by Young, Sproeber , Groschwitz , Preiss , and Plener (2014) suggests that Those who identify as Goth or Emo have been proposed as being more likely to self-harm, while other groups such as ‘Jocks’ are linked with protective coping behaviors (for example exercise)

Causes :

Causes Adolescents that engage in self-harm are most often because they are neglected or abused (sexually, physically or emotionally). Experienced a traumatic event. Socially isolated. Mental health issues; likely to be highly self-critical and have poor problem solving skills. In addition, self-injury is commonly associated with certain mental disorders, such as borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. People who self-harm are often under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs.

Factors for self-harm:

Factors for self-harm Biological Age: Neurodevelopmental period of adolescence? Emotional distress and impulse. Females: More males are involved then indicated. Family Link: Self-harm is likely if a family member self-harmed or was suicidal. Psychological Mental Health Link: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, or borderline personality disorder. Poor Parent-Child Attachment Traumatic Events: Adolescents who have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse during childhood. Bullying, grief, emotional abandonment, or a serious illness. Smoking: Is linked to self-harm.

Continued Factors for Self-Harm:

Continued Factors for Self-Harm Environmental Friends: Peers that are also self-harming Family Issues: Negative parental and family relationships Isolation: Isolated from the general society

Indicators of Self-Harm:

Indicators of Self-Harm Red felt pen marks on arms and wrists Rubber band marks on arms, wrists, legs, and ankles Keeping themselves fully covered at all times and in any weather Lack of motivation Expressing a wish to punish themselves Extremely self critical

Causes of Self-Harm:

Causes of Self-Harm Physical and Mental Health Depression increases the risk of self-harm Self-harm can increase the risk of intentional suicide later or even accidental 1 in 8 adolescents who self-harm go to the emergency room Work and School Feeling upset Tired and incapable of concentrating Have a difficult time attending classes Avoid work and school Alter performance Financial issues

Continued Causes of Self-Harm:

Continued Causes of Self-Harm Relationships and Friendships Less socialization Reclusion Low social connections Decline in a solid family foundation

How to Help Someone Who Self-Harms:

How to Help Someone Who Self-Harms Deal with your own feelings about self-harm Learn about what self-harm is Don’t judge them Offer support, not ultimatums Encourage Communication Don ’ t ask them to “promise” not to do it again


Preventions School-based psychological well-being and skills training programs Gatekeepers training(schools teachers and peers) Screening to identify who potentially are at risk Improved media supervision from parents Encouragement to pursue help Public awareness campaigns (is key) Help-lines Internet sources for help and understanding Psychosocial interventions for those already self-harming Problem-solving therapy

Sources for Help and Preventions:

Sources for Help and Preventions www.teenlineonline.org (Teen self-harm) www.crisistextline.org (stop self-harm) www.doorofhope4teens.org (recover from self-harm) www.helpguide.org S.A.F.E. Alternative (Self abuse finally ends) www.selfinjury.com Kids help phone 1-800-668-6868 www.kidshelpphone.ca


Resources Butterworth, S. (2016).Suicide and Self-Harm in Young People: Risk Factors and Interventions. Retrieved from www.youthspace.me/assets/0000/6974/suicide_and_self-harm_in_young_people.pdf Smith, M, Segal J, & Subin , J. (2016). Help guide. Retrieved from www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/cutting-and-self-harm.htm Gibson, E., L, and Crenshaw, T. (2015). U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Self-Harm and Trauma: Research Findings. Retrieved from www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/self-harm-trauma.asp


Resources Fortune, S., Cottreil , D., and Fife, S. (2016). Family factors a ssociated with a dolescent self-harm: a narrative view. Journal of Family Therapy . 2( 38), 226-256. doi:10.1111/1467.12119 Palmer, E., Welsh, P., and Tiffin, A., P. (2016). Perceptions of family f unctioning in a dolescents w ho s elf-harm. Journal of Family Therapy . 2 (38), 257-273. doi:10.1111/1467-6427.12069 Young, R., Sproeber , N., Groschwits , R.C., Preiss , M., & Plener , P.L. (2014). Why alternative teenagers self-harm: exploring the link between non-suicidal self-injury, attempted suicide and adolescent identity. BMC Psychiatry, 14 (1), 1-25. doi:10.1186/1471-244x-14-137

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