Self Harm in Adolescents

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Maryanne Dyke
Self-injury in the Adolescent Years
Ms. Crawford
HSB 4M1
May 21st 2013

With an increase in stress and anxiety in adolescents, some are choosing to cope with the emotional discomfort by a means of self harm called cutting. Cutting is a self injurious behavior where an individual uses an object that is sharp that is used to cause physical pain and is usually used to compensate for the emotional tension that one is experiencing. In previous times, it was thought that it was an attempt at taking one’s life, but professionals are now stating that it is not necessarily true but it is a coping mechanism that some may choose in order to stay alive. Parents and other adults that the individual trusts have to become aware of the warning signs which include but are not limited to participate in physical education classes, swimming classes. Seeking help from a professional may help to uncover the foundational causes of this behavior. Some individuals may choose self-harm when they are at their emotional limit because of a perceived personal failure, lack of communication to one’s caregivers, etc. adolescents need to know if they report someone engaging in self harming behavior they need to tell an adult as soon as possible so that the individual engaging in the harmful behavior can be helped and receive proper treatment. Training for parents, teachers, guidance counselors and other professionals may help reduce the amount of students who are choosing self-injury as a way to deal with their problems.

Self-injury is a complex and a commonly misunderstood phenomenon in the adolescent population (Plante, 2007). Self harm is a dangerous and pervasive problem during the adolescent years (Nock, Teper & Hollander, 2007). In more recent times, the problem of self-injury has become more common, it is now beginning at younger ages than ever before (Schneider, 2007). “self injury is a deliberate, non-suicidal behavior that inflicts harm on one’s body with the goal of relieving emotional distress”(WebMD, 2009). Self injury encompasses a lot of terms. Some include self injury, self harm and self mutilation. One who injures themselves have various means of doing so. Some include: cutting, burning, picking one’s scabs, punching self or objects, infecting oneself, inserting objects into body openings, bruising or breaking bones, some forms of hair pulling as well as other forms of bodily harm (Schneider, 2007). The terms may be used interchangeably throughout this paper because self-injury is described in many ways by different people. The focus of the paper will be self injury, self harm and cutting. Many people do not understand why an individual may self injure. Some people have reported that they hurt themselves because they were in a fight with either their friends or family members, they lost a loved one or their parents split up (Rebman, 2006). “ an expert stated that self injurers tend to feel very empty inside, over or understimulated, not understood by others and fearful of intimate relationships and adult responsibilities. Self injury is a way to cope with or relieve painful emotions” (Schneider, 2007). When one injures themselves, they feel in control and it is their pwn way of not involving or hurting others. Since the family has a challenging time understanding why a person may cut themselves they tend to be critical and unsupportive (Poland, 2008). Parents usually believe that it is just a phase and that they will grow out of it (Levenkron, 1998). There are many stressful situations that can create an environment that is difficult for individuals to cope with including a traumatic family loss, neglect and or abuse or neglect, unstable family roles, rape or unclear social values. These kinds of situations make it challenging for the individual to know where they stand in relation to others which may create overwhelming stress and emotions (Conterio & Lader, 1998). Parents have a direct...
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