Regina Vogt-Purdon, LISW-S
Self-injury or “cutting” is the intentional physical harming of one’s body to manage undesirable emotions, but with no intent to die. Of all age groups, self-harming is most prevalent among teenagers. While self-harming is typically not suicidal in nature, it still poses a concern for safety depending on the severity of the self-harm. Here are some ways you can help a child or teen that you care for who self-harms:
1.) Do not punish the child. Many children and teens who self-harm already feel ashamed.
2.) If the self-harming results in injury requiring medical attention, call your child’s pediatrician or take the child to the nearest emergency room.
3.) If the child is not already connected with a mental health therapist, help foster that connection. The Psychiatric Intake Response Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (513-636-4124) is available to provide crisis support as well as referrals for mental health treatment.
4.) Discuss the child’s self-harming behavior with his or her therapist. The therapist will help the child determine what need the self-harm is fulfilling and develop replacement coping skills to meet that same need. Ask the therapist what you can do to help support the child in using the replacement coping skills.