When Teens Self-Harm: How Dangerous Is It?

Teenage girl (16-17) looking away
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Quick Links: Troubled Teens | Quiz: Is Your Teen At-Risk?

Question: Self-harm sounds dangerous, is it?

Answer: Yes, teens who self-harm can be seriously hurt, although in most cases this isn't their intent. Deliberately inflicting pain by cutting, or other means, is not usually intended as a suicide attempt, a cry for help or a way to get attention. It's primarily a way to release strong, painful feelings that have built up inside.

Sometimes self-harm does have serious consequences. The injuries can result in more bleeding than expected, or become infected, leading to the possible risk of death. Most of the injuries leave permanent scars.

If the teen is under the influence of drugs or alcohol she’s even less able to control what she’s doing. And in addition to the physical risks, self-harm is not an effective way to “cope” with difficult emotions.

Some teens will experiment with self-harm out of curiosity; but a teen who repeats this pattern is struggling to contend with difficulties, trauma, or painful memories she isn’t equipped to handle and needs professional help to stop this dangerous behavior.

FAQ on Teens and Self-Harm, Cutting and Self-Injury

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Quick Links: Troubled Teens | Quiz: Is Your Teen At-Risk?

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