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Understanding Your Teenager’s Thoughts of Self-Harm

Last Updated: March 2021

If your teen struggles with depression, you know that symptoms of severe depression, self-harm or even suicidal thoughts, can come on quickly.

Learn more about thoughts of self-harm in teenagers, as well as how to care and seek treatment for your child during this time.

If you are concerned that your child’s thoughts of self-harm have escalated to suicidal ideation, seek medical care immediately and/or contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for immediate support by calling, texting, or chatting 988.

How Parents Can Help Their Teen

Depression is incredibly powerful and can make teenagers feel alone and isolated. It’s important to let your child know that you care about them very deeply.

Now is the time to create a mental health network and/or find a mentor for your teen. A mental health mentor is someone who has been where your teen is now and has coped with similar feelings.

They can help your teen understand that they are not alone and that many teenagers cope with feelings of severe depression and thoughts of suicide. 

Too many adolescents suffer from depression and many confess to having suicidal ideation.

They are not alone in this struggle, and you are not alone in parenting a teen with these thoughts.

Understanding Self-Harm in Teens

Self-harm is a rapidly growing practice that is usually done in secret. The condition affects more teens and young adults today than in any other generation.

Self-harm or self-injury in teens is usually an attempt to gain control or obtain relief from emotional distress.

Self-harm is not always an indicator of suicidal thoughts, but it can cause more harm than a teenager intended and lead to medical complications or death, making it as dangerous as a suicide attempt.

When Self-Harm Can Lead to Suicidal Ideation

When a teenager is deeply depressed, they may begin to contemplate suicide, feeling like life is too hard or the world would be better off without them. First, remind your child how much they mean to you and then seek help from a mental health professional

Thoughts of suicide are incredibly dangerous. If you feel like your teen is in crisis, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

While thoughts of suicide are common, they are not natural or unavoidable. Self-harm and suicidal ideation are indicators that more intense mental health care is necessary.

Treatment for Self-Harm in Teens

If your teen is intentionally harming themselves or having thoughts of suicide, now is the time to get help. You are not alone, and neither are they.

Never take self-harm, a relapse, or thoughts of suicide lightly. From your child or anyone else.

*This article is for informational purposes only and not to be considered medical advice. If your child is having a mental health emergency, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for immediate support by calling, texting, or chatting 988. You can also text HOME to 741741 -the Crisis Text Line- from anywhere in the country to talk with a trained crisis counselor.

Embark is the most trusted name in teen and young adult mental health treatment. We’re driven to find the help your family needs. If you’re looking for support, contact us today! 

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit embarkbh.com.