Teen Bogeyman .. Everything you need to know about “non-suicidal self-harm” Sasa Post: Press B

“Non-suicidal self-harming behavior is a very different matter from suicide. It is a pain that is personally controlled, allowing you to live to some extent. ” * Rob Yovanovitch, “In Search of Richie Edwards”

Adolescence – the period from 10 to 24 years – is one of the most important periods of development and growth, as it proves a rapid development in terms of psychological, mental, social, emotional and physical of the child, in addition to many behaviors and cognitive changes, and all of these changes pose a major challenge for teens. Many studies show that this period is marking an increase in the incidence of mental disorders.

Unexpected and rapid development after it!

Rapid and sudden changes in psychological and physical terms cause a lot of suffering for adolescents and this is most evident in statistics related to adolescent mental health, according to the website.
Polaris Adolescent Mental Health; One in five adolescents have diagnosable symptoms of mental illness and 50% of all cases of mental illness occur during adolescence.

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These disorders appear in the form of periods of anxiety, tension and mood swings and there are some indicators that warn of more serious problems such as. teens hurt themselves with some sharp instruments to relieve stress and anxiety, in what is known as “Non-Suicidal Injury.”

What is non-suicidal self-harm?

In a study published on the website of the American Library of Medicine, Dr. John Peterson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado, defines non-suicidal self-harm as a prevalent behavior among adolescents, especially in adolescence, which is intentional harm that adolescents cause themselves by cutting their skin or scratching him, causing him some burns on the body, or stabbing him or hitting him without any intention or intent to cause death.

But why do teens adopt non-suicidal self-harm behaviors?

Adolescents do this for a variety of reasons, including:

1- Lack of emotional self-regulation!

Adolescence is characterized by savagery and behavior in a way that seeks pleasure and avoids pain, so what drives teens to want to hurt themselves? Researcher Rachel Bender at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in America answers this question in a study published on the university website and explains that non-suicidal self-harm is an unhealthy attempt to regulate emotions and to responding to negative emotions such as as intense anger, guilt, and fear as a result of adolescents ’lack of mechanisms of emotional self-regulation, which refers to the ability to manage disturbed feelings and emotions in a healthy way.

2- Unhappy childhood

Adopting self-harming behaviors increases the most negative childhood events like parental neglect, abuse or deprivation, the child suffers from chronic stress that leaves him in a state of constant activation of the escape response that works to alleviate the effects of stress and anxiety. , but according to a study published on the American Library of Medicine website, long-term activation of stress response systems increases the likelihood of stress-related illnesses, such as impaired emotional regulation, and the body’s constant state of activation stimulates secretion of cortisol. stress hormone) to a large extent.

3- The influence of the media

Researchers have been interested in studying the role of the internet and social media in adolescents at risk of self-harming behavior. A study by Rebecca C. Brown, a researcher in the Department of Psychiatry and Adolescent Therapy at Ulm University in Germany, found that research for terms related to non-suicidal self-harm were performed 42 million times a year on Google, and about 100 videos have been viewed on YouTube! This is in addition to searching for images related to self-harm.

The study found that the internet and social media are a double-edged sword in relation to self-harm. It is a tool to stimulate self-harm and receive support and social reinforcement from other adolescents suffering from self-harming behavior, and in turn is a tool for recovering and reducing self-harm. Suicide non-suicidal damage reported seeking help online.

And why do teens continue to hurt themselves?

Behavioral psychologists attribute the constant repetition of a certain behavior to “reinforcement” if it leads to pleasant and comfortable results, and Kevin Cohen points out in a study related to the University of Washington that self-harm works in a way that reinforces behaviors, namely that if the adolescent feels comfortable and happy from the emotional stresses he is going through after the abuse, he is likely to repeat this behavior himself.

Image source: Tennessean

What makes self-harm comfortable?

Yu Jing Wang, a researcher at the Clinical Research Center for Mental Disorders of Wenzhou Medical University in China, points out, through a study published in the medical journal “The Lancet”; When a teenager self-harms, the levels of endorphins (happiness hormone) in the blood increase, so the teenager feels pleasure and numbness. The body after taking narcotic substances reduces the state of tension and anxiety that the teenager experiences.

Non-suicidal self-harm versus other mental disorders

Non-suicidal self-harm is not a disorder in itself. According to the medical site Free WellMind, self-harm is not listed as a specific disorder in the DSM-5, but is considered a secondary symptom of some other mental disorders that are severely increased or decreased according to the type and severity of the disorder, and a study published in the American Board Journal by researcher Patrick L. Beware, there is a link between self-harm and a range of other mental disorders, including:

Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

Non-suicidal self-harm is one of the nine criteria for diagnosing borderline personality disorder and approximately 70% to 75% of individuals with BPD meet the self-harm criterion.


Approximately 69% of individuals with schizoaffective disorders experience self-harming behaviors.

eating disorders

Joint research suggests that self-harm is somewhat prevalent in people with eating disorders such as eating disorder and anorexia.

Is there a link between self-harm and suicidal behavior?

Suicide refers to the practice of self-injurious behavior in order to end and get rid of a life, as opposed to non-suicidal self-harm, which aims to cause some self-harm to provide relief and alleviate stress and tension. There are several differences between non-suicidal self-harm and suicidal behavior, including:

The goal: The goal of self-harm is to feel better, while suicide is the desire to end life to get rid of negative feelings forever. Techniques used: Techniques used in self-harm cause superficial damage to the body, while suicide methods are more deadly. Level of psychological pain: The desire to commit suicide and end life increases in cases where the adolescent suffers from severe psychological pain, as opposed to self-harm, as the adolescent experiences lower levels of psychological pain.

Anis Whitlock points out that although there are some differences between self-harming and suicidal behavior, repeating self-harming behavior increases the risk of a higher risk of self-harm with the intent to commit suicide!

How to help your child with non-suicidal self-harming behaviors?

“What is especially important for you is to know that one of the most powerful protective factors against the transition from self-harm to suicide is the feeling associated with parents. In fact, the consistency with which fathers appear in our study as important sources of support for their children is one of the reasons why we wrote this book. ”

Fathers are the first line of protection and support for children

Shock, anger and sadness are the first feelings that parents touch when they learn about their children’s harm to themselves. It is good in these situations for parents to control their feelings of anger and start an open dialogue with their children without rebuked or blamed.

Seek professional help

Checking the child’s mental health is essential to establishing an accurate diagnosis after self-harming behavior. It is necessary to go to a mental health and behavioral specialist to help and accurately diagnose the child and determine if he suffers from any disorder that leads him to no. -suppressive suicidal behavior or not.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Highly recommended therapies for non-suicidal self-harm help the child gain self-regulatory skills and cope with negative feelings.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the child change the way he deals with his negative feelings and learns the right way to deal with them.

Psychiatrists use several drug therapies if a non-suicidal self-harm is diagnosed when it is behavior associated with a specific disorder and the goal of treatment is to treat the underlying disorder.


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