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Non-suicidal self-injury means that a person injures themself on purpose. For example, they may cut, scratch, or bite their skin until it bleeds. Self-injury is serious. So it's important to seek help from a health professional. People who self-injure don't do it to die. But some may also be thinking about suicide.
To assess, the doctor may ask how often the injuries happen and if they bleed, bruise, or cause pain. And the doctor may ask how self-injuring makes your child feel. The doctor also may ask questions to find out if your child has other health conditions, like depression.
You can look for things that make self-injury more likely. Children may be at risk if they:
Your child might be self-injuring if they:
If you think your child is self-injuring, talk to a doctor or a mental health professional.
Self-injury is treated with counselling. Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) are common types of counselling for self-injury. Medicines are sometimes used with counselling. Ask your doctor about the different types of treatment. Then you can decide together about what might work best.
If your child self-injures, here are some ways you can help.
Look for a counsellor that your child feels safe with and trusts. You can ask your child's doctor for a referral.
A health professional such as your child's doctor or counsellor can help you.
If you are feeling emotional, it's okay to take some time to yourself. It's best to approach your child when you're feeling calm.
Your usual parenting skills likely aren't the right tools to help your child. And you can't make your child stop self-injuring. Time and counselling can help your child get better.
You may want to find a counsellor for yourself. And look for a self-injury support group. Ask for help from trusted friends, family, and community members.
These can help you learn how to model healthy coping skills. For example, you can learn how to talk about emotions. And skills like deep breathing and yoga may help you learn how to manage your emotions.
If it's an emergency or if your child is in a crisis, get help right away. Call 911 or a suicide crisis centre. Keep the number for a suicide crisis centre on or near your phone. Go to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention web page to find a suicide crisis prevention centre in your area.
Adaptation Date: 5/19/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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