self-harm daughter

Everything Those Who Self-Harm Wish Their Parents Understood

(by Dawson McAllister)
I have taken hundreds of calls from teens and young adults and written multiple blogs on TheHopeLine addressing the issue of self-harm or cutting. For over ten years now I’ve been dealing with this subject, and while it is a reality that many of our teens and young adults face on a daily basis. They tell me over and over that they wish their parents understood why they self-harm.wish my parents understood

So I’d like to try to shed some light on this subject from what I’ve learned over the years by looking at what self-harm involves, why people do it, and tips on how to help someone who is struggling.

Simply put – Most often the point of cutting is ultimately to cover over a much deeper emotional pain.

Self-Harm Defined:

Self-harm is a way of coping with overwhelming emotional feelings such as sadness, self-hate, emptiness, or guilt by purposefully inflicting injury on oneself. For those who struggle with painful, emotional issues, self-injury is a way to release their internal suffering and cover up feelings that are not easy for them to express. Since they can’t control their emotional pain, they control their physical pain through inflicting harm on themselves.

Cutting is the treating of one pain with another. A cutter’s life is one of choices between one kind of physical pain or facing a much greater emotional pain. The problem with cutting, as with any addiction, is that by harming themselves, they never really confront their deepest feelings.

Cutting also provides a temporary high. It triggers your body’s chemistry. The body naturally produces a chemical compound called endorphins. Endorphins are released to help the body deal with pain and stress. In fact, endorphins cause an actual high designed to cover over real physical pain. And cutting causes real physical pain. Sometimes people cut because of peer pressure and the high associated with it, but most often it’s rooted in emotional pain.

It is important to note that people who self-harm are not trying to kill themselves. It is a secretive and incredibly harmful addiction affecting MANY teens and young adults:

  • Each year one in five females and one in seven males engage in self-harm.
  • 90% of people who engage in self-harm begin in their teen or pre-teen years.
  • Nearly 50% of those who engage in self-harm have been sexually abused.

Exact numbers of people who cut are difficult to come by, since most cutters conceal their addiction and injuries. Yet rates of cutting are much higher among younger people, with the average age starting around 12-years-old.

This is why Samantha says she cuts: “Every time I cut, everything that I feel is GONE! This fall it will be three years that I have been addicted. And I can’t help it. I can’t go over two days without it. It is what brings me up so I don’t have to feel emotional pain, because I’ve learned physical pain is nothing compared to emotional.”

And Christina said, “I know a girl that started cutting a couple years ago. She was doing it because of some family problems, so I started doing it too, not because of what they said but because it’s the only way for me to help myself deal with all of the feelings I hold inside.”

Listen to what Cassandra had to say when she called into my radio show.

Forms of Self-Harm:

Self-harm can take on many forms, the most common form is cutting…often people will cut their arms or upper thighs, stomach, hips…any place that can be easily be covered up by clothing. Other forms of self-harm include: burning or scalding skin, biting, sticking objects into skin, etc.

If you think your child may be cutting but you aren’t sure, here are some warning signs:

  1. Unexplained injuries, wounds or scars such as cuts, bruises or burns, typically on the wrists, arms, thighs or chest.
  2. Blood stains on clothing, towels, bedding, in the sink or bathroom.
  3. Sharp objects like razors, knives, needles, glass
  4. Rapidly decreasing supply of bandages, face cloths or paper towels or even socks or underwear. Anything that may not be noticed as missing that could clean up the blood.
  5. “Accidents” that happen frequently; claims to just be “clumsy” or uses other excuses to explain why
  6. Covering up with long sleeves and other clothing to hide injuries
  7. Wanting to be alone for long periods of time in the bedroom or bathroom
  8. Isolation and irritability
  9. Intense emotional trauma, either past or current, such as losing a loved one, parent’s divorce or bullying

Your child will try to hide their addiction from you as long as they can, there is a deep sense of shame associated with cutting. If you suspect they may be self-harming, be brave enough to ask them about it gently…maybe even indirectly…tell them what you’ve observed and why you are worried, assuring them all the time that you love them and want to help. An understanding parent can be their life-line. It was for Sara: “I was lucky enough to have an incredibly understanding and supportive mother who was an open door for me to speak to whenever I felt low or had the need to self-harm. She wouldn’t panic or freak out; she would sit back and listen to me when I needed it or help me when I asked for it.”

Your child may be cutting and not even know why they are doing it. If they haven’t ever taken the time to deal with whatever issue is causing them to self-harm, they may be self-harming for relief and not even realize the deeper problem. But now that they’ve started cutting, it is hard to stop. Their brain has connected the false sense of relief with cutting, and the addictive cycle has begun. They self-harm…they feel guilty about it…they don’t know how to deal with their guilt…so they self-harm.

Someone left this comment on my blog: “I used to cut because I felt like it was the only way to feel something other than the hurt and confusion and self-hate that was driving me insane.”

So what should you do if you discover your child is self-harming:

  1. Stay calm and rational. Your immediate reaction might be shock, disappointment, anger and perhaps even guilt. You might want to say things like, “What is wrong with you?” “Do you really need attention that bad?” “What did I do so wrong to you, to drive you to this?” The comments and displeasure you feel may be rational, but it is the last thing they likely want to hear.
  2. REALLY listen and seek to understand. Often someone who cuts feels like no one understands them. Do NOT be one more person that says, “Why would you do this to yourself? It doesn’t make any sense?” Gently ask them questions to get them talking about their habit. It’s important they tell their story. As they tell their story, they are coming out of their emotional hiding place and saying they don’t want these horrible feelings to have control over them any longer.You don’t need to have all the answers. Just listen!
  3. Find a counselor. If they won’t tell their story to you, maybe they will talk to a counselor. Encourage them to open up to someone that can help them process the pain in their life that is causing them to self-harm.
  4. Encourage your child that you BELIEVE in them and love them. Tell them you know they will have the strength to stop when they decide to and that you will support them however you can. Offer to be their accountability partner, if they want. You can be the person they call to distract themselves from cutting when the temptation arises.
  5. Educate yourself. This blog is a good starting point, also check out our free eBook on Understanding Self-Harm and anything else you can get your hands on. The more you understand and the less they have to explain to you the easier on them.
  6. Offer them resources on the subject of self-harm. We have created a link with many helpful resources available all in one convenient place. Self-Harm Resources You could simply text or email your child this link and say…”When you are ready…” . You can also give them a link to TheHopeLine so they can talk with a HopeCoach Sometimes talking to someone removed from the situation is helpful.
  7. Trust God has a plan for them. God is bigger than cutting!! He can help them overcome the addiction. Pray that God gives them the strength and desire they need to stop cutting and find HOPE.

As your child begins to recover, they will likely still feel the cravings to cut again. Here are some suggestions on how they can deal with those powerful urges.

Practical ideas to help someone resist the urge to cut:

One of the best ways to let the urge to cut pass is by distracting yourself with someone or something else. This will allow the moment to pass when you’re feeling the deep cravings to cut, and get your mind off of it. It’s impossible for your mind to think about two things at the exact same time. Here are some ideas on how to distract yourself:

  1. Call a friend or meet them in person. Talk about what’s comfortable. The key is to keep talking.
  2. Take a shower. This will help invigorate your body, so physically it too, is distracted. (Make sure there are no razors in the shower).
  3. Exercise walk, run, ride your bike, climb, swim, do yoga, etc. While you are exercising, your mind is more likely to think about something other than cutting.
  4. Watch television or a non-violent, healthy movie.
  5. Write in your journal learn to express your feelings through writing.
  6. Create art, or some kind of creative hobby.

The point is: Find something else to do.

If none of these ideas are possible at the moment, try finding a substitute for the cutting sensation.

  1. Rub an ice cube on your skin, instead of cutting.
  2. Wear a rubber band on your wrist, and snap it when you feel the urge.
  3. Draw on your skin with a red marker in the place you would normally cut.
  4. Put temporary tattoos in the places you have the urge to cut.

self-harm daughterThe urge to cut will go away in time, but only if it isn’t acted upon. Each time the addiction is fed, the more likely they will feel the urge to cut the next time they feel the same emotional pressure. As with any addiction, the more they stand against the urge, without giving in, the more their urges will decrease.

As a parent never underestimate the power that your love and concern has in helping your child get better. This is what Hannah wrote to me:

Hello, my name is Hannah…for me…cutting was attention to myself. I felt alone. Being alone is hard especially since they’re billions of people who live on this planet….for me my silent cries were answered by the people I thought could never understand…my parents. It was the actual hardest thing to tell both of them. The second hardest when they asked how long this had been occurring. And the saddest thing to see them crying when I showed them all the scars I had. But it was the tangible help I received [from them] that became the most amazing thing to ever come out of my “problem.”

For additional help and information, click here to download TheHopeLine® eBook on self-harm.

56 thoughts on “Everything Those Who Self-Harm Wish Their Parents Understood

  1. I tried those things you suggested. but it dosen’t provide the same satisfaction as putting a blade or hot bit of metal into my arm. the thing i find addicting about it is it lasts and i feel slow pain when you dig it into your skin.
    the only reason i do self harm is because i don’t feel anything anymore. and i don’t care about ANYTHING

  2. i think you are right and i cut because no one cares about me and my family says i should die so i cut to feel some thing

  3. I’m glad I found this site. I am now 50 and have been a cutter since my 20’s, albeit a safe one. I never use knives or scissors. I use the things diabetics use to test their blood sugar levels as they can’t go deep and they are sterile. I have been trying for years to make my parents understand why I self-harm. They try to make me promise not to self-harm and when I fail they get mad at me. They try sarcasm, shock etc. I hope they will come here and read your blog as I am going to give them the link. I have plenty of other coping skills I implement before I cut and I go 2 years in between cutting sometimes. Thank you for the links you shared above. I’m off to check them out too.

  4. Nobody understands. So many people just judge you when they’ve never had to go through something like this. When my parents found out, all they wanted to say was how much harder their life was and how I have no reason to be depressed. My mom verbally abuses me every day and it’s gotten so bad. They put me in counseling when they first found out. My counselor was no good because she counseled my older sister before she did me, and my sister has done some stupid things. And all she did was the same thing my parents always did: compare me to her. She literally told me to my face that I was dumb. So I started acting like I was fine again and stopped going to counseling. I’ve been secretly cutting ever since. I will only put one or two cuts on one of my wrists, and then waiting a few days before I do it again so that they aren’t suspicious. My legs are a whole different story. They don’t know that I was sexually abused from the time I was four to the time I was eleven and I feel like I’ve let them down. I know this is TMI but I don’t really care. I stopped caring a long time ago.

  5. Jacinda, You sharing what you’ve been through and are still going through is the first step to working through your struggles and getting healing. Way to go, it takes courage! Thank you for sharing from your heart and for being honest and real. Talking it out, crying it out, writing it out…are all things that can help. It’s not at all cool that your counselor said you were dumb. You are not dumb. You have deep hurts and pain that need to be dealt with. It’s not your fault you were sexually abused and are dealing with the aftermath of that abuse but it is your responsibility to try to get help and healing. Find another counselor, there are tons out there. Also, a good place to start is chatting with one of our online HopeCoaches at: and we have lots of help for self-harm and abuse as well at: You’ve been a victim but don’t allow that to become the whole of who you are. You can be an overcomer too! God bless and please don’t give up!

  6. I know this is for parents…but a couple days I cut for the first time in a year…
    It was only one then the next day I had 35 cuts on one of my arms… I’m scared my parents are gonna react bad..and also I don’t know why but I go from depressed, Stressed, or angered to feeling nothing at all when I cut…is
    there a reason for this?

  7. Cutting yourself can be for different reasons…depression, low self-esteem, traumatic events, deep hurts, etc. It really helps to talk it out so you can find the core of where your emotional pain is coming from. We work with an amazing organization you can talk with/text with to get help. We also have HopeCoaches you can chat live with every evening at:

  8. I think I might be self harming but i’m not sure. I have very low self esteem and I pinch and scratch at the imperfections on my face until they get really irritated and bright red or bleed. I also chew the insides of my mouth severely until I hit nerves and I have problems eating acidic food. I have burned myself a couple times when I was angry by turning on the tap water as hot as possible and repeatedly putting my hands in the hot water until they were red and irritated. I also have unhealthy eating schedules were I don’t eat anything in the morning and starve myself then when I come back in the afternoon I just binge eat food, plus I don’t go to sleep at night until around midnight even if I go to bed around 9:00 and get up around 5:00 in the morning for school. I’m pretty sure that I have social and general anxiety because social situations terrify me and I have panic attacks when I feel pressured. I have only cut myself once when I was a freshman because I was mad at myself but not to the point of where it would leave a permanent scar because I was scared of my parents possibly finding it, but it still took several weeks to fully heal so that I didn’t have to wear long sleeves. I have been having depressing thoughts since 8th grade and my parent though I was suicidal in freshman year( even though I wasn’t ) I have tried to talk to them about how I feel but they tell me that i’m just being lazy and unmotivated (I didn’t know anything about self harm and was barely doing anything at that time so it wasn’t mentioned ). They think that i’m just a moody unmotivated teen who is ungrateful and refuses to do anything. I want to see a therapist and figure out whats wrong with me but my parents don’t like the medical system and don’t really believe in mental illnesses. I just try to have therapy with my self by talking in to mirrors or walking in circles around my house imagining myself having a therapeutic conversation with an audience. I’m a junior now and I have been in this state of mind for around 3-4 years and I have no idea how to get out of it. I also can’t stop doing these bad habits I feel like something is wrong or missing if I don’t, but I’m not necessarily addicted to them( even though I’m pretty sure I do some of them subconsciously. Like biting and scratching at my scabs).
    I need answers.

  9. Hey Yona! Thank you for commenting and reaching out for help. This is a great first step towards help and healing. We have a lot of ways for you to get help for what you are going through. And, yes, you are self-harming. Self-harming can be a variety of things, not just cutting, if you are causing pain to your body to try to cope with your emotions then you are self-harming. I would start your journey of getting help by checking out our eBook: Understanding Self-Harm. This explains what it is and how to get help to stop. Counseling would be a great way to work through things but since your parents aren’t supportive of that, we do have some other ways you can talk to someone and get help. We have chat open every night with HopeCoaches who can talk with you about what’s going on. So, live chat with a HopeCoach any night of the week at: We’ve also partnered with an organization that specifically helps people struggling with self-harm. Here’s more info on them: You are bright and smart! Don’t give up! Keep searching until you get the hope and help you need.

  10. I started cutting last week.I always looked at self harm as something quite odd and could never comprehend why somebody would ever want to do that to themselves. I recently had a parent diagnosed with a life changing disease and the trauma it has caused to her , my father, and myself is tremendous. I spoke to trusted adults at school and i was referred to a counsellor, nothing seemed to be helping and nobody understood how i truly felt and how this has affected me. I’ve had friends that have cut before and I decided to try it out.I am desperate for a way to express how I truly feel and the cutting let’s me express my emotional pain as physical. It also distracts me from thinking about everything, the pain gives me something else to think about. I’ve been cutting several times a day and the total is around 50 cuts in the past 4 days. I feel trapped, i’m scared that i won’t be able to stop. I can’t speak to anyone at school because they’re going to tell my parents, my parents can’t know because they’re going to think it’s stupid and selfish (i’ve heard them say it about other cases before). I can’t speak to my friends because they’re going to look at me differently and they won’t understand and they’ll worry. I also feel that my reason isn’t “good” enough. I always feel like the cuts aren’t deep enough and it’s never good enough. Do you have any advice on what i should do ?

  11. Hey Orlagh! Traumatic events in your life, like what’s going on with your mom, can make you feel powerless and out helpless. Cutting is a way for you to have some control in your life. As you said, it allows you to express yourself and distracts you. The problem with emotions related to trauma is that you have to deal with them sooner or later. Your emotions (including fears & anxieties) related to your mom’s disease need to be talked about, expressed, and sorted through. You will have to do it now or do it later in order to not be crippled by what’s going on. I know you tried to see a counselor, maybe they weren’t the right one, maybe you weren’t honest about your feelings with them. It’s okay to try different counselors because some are definitely better than others and some are a better fit for you. Also, chat with our HopeCoaches at any night of the week. Also, I have some great blogs and resources on how to stop cutting. Here’s a good one about coping in healthy ways:

  12. You know I bet that about 75% of people reading this are not parents because parents dont care
    Like my mom who is making a frikin trade or some crap saying that if I stop cutting that she will do something fun for me
    And my grandma my mom and probably my dad are mad that I did this they aren’t sad or caring they are just plain pissed so if you read this story dont assume that your parents will care if you harm yourself

  13. Jas, I’m sorry your parents have reacted the way they have. A lot of parents don’t know how to handle it when they find out their kid is cutting so they respond in different ways…bargaining and anger being your parents. It’s not necessarily that they don’t care but they don’t know what to do to help you. The best thing for you to do is to get help for yourself. We offer one-on-one chat every night if you’d like a place to start and someone to talk to.

  14. I dnt know whether to cut or not. It makes me scared to cut but…its also scary. my mom does care about me but does tend to bully me. Like for example call me trash and undivided. She says its my attitude but im not really sure. My mom always takes things the wrong way. I made a mistake of grabbing a knife infront of my mom. she went and took a picture of it and said she was going to tell my counsler. I dont know what to think. i started making excuses that i was trying to CUT my clothes not me, but she didnt belive it. NOW, im freaking out. Right now me and her arent talking to each other and im planning to run away.

  15. Ashley, Running away may solve the temporary issue with your mom but it won’t solve your desire to cut yourself. It may give you relief from fighting with your mom but will also bring with it many other kinds of troubles. If you haven’t already, ask your mom to sit down and talk with you about how you are feeling. Is it such a bad thing, she showed your counselor the knife? She wants your counselor to know what’s going on so they can help you. The truth can set you free. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your mom about your pain, talk with your counselor. Tell them the truth so you can start to get the help you need. You will get through this! Also, get more resources from us at!

  16. I try to talk to my parents all the time about this. I’ve been cutting for 2 years and all they do is make me feel worse because they call it attention-seeking and last night my mom told me she doesn’t care if I self-harm, She doesn’t care if I eat or don’t (I struggle with bulimia) and it just hurts when she says this stuff. I don’t know what else to do. I self harm to feel pain because I just feel numb all the time.

  17. What your mom is doing is very destructive. Sometimes parents just don’t know what to do so they lash out or act as if they don’t care but either way it’s not right. You need to get into counseling! Can you go to the counselor at your school? Or you can ask your parents to help you get a counselor. You don’t have to face this alone and just stay stuck with the feelings you have. Another good place to start would be our website where you can find out more about self-harm, where it comes from, and how to cope.

  18. My parents are the constant reason why I self harm. They always say I’m too old for it, it’s childish and I should grow up, I’m 18. My parents treat me like I’m 6, they are harsh on me and then they wonder why I self harm. I tell them constantly I’ve seen so many adults self harm and try to explain that it makes me feel better and they are harsh on me about it anyways, telling me to grow up again. They won’t let me leave the house on my own or even move out, they are very controlling and verbally abusive. I don’t know how to get out of it, every time we fight I get the thought that death is the only way out. Maybe it is. Guess I’m the “attention seeking whore” my parents always call me.

  19. Luna, thank you for your honest comments about self-harm and your parents. You don’t have to be defined by who your parents say you are. Parents don’t always get it right and being verbally abusive is definitely not okay. Self-harm can be a feel-good release but it’s also a dangerous addiction and addictions require outside help to overcome. We have many ways for you to get help online for not only self-harm but also for the abuse from your family. Chat with us at: and view our resources:

  20. when i told my mom i was cutting she said it was stuipid and was trying to put me in the nut hut and wasnt being as suportive and it just it made it worse for me it was my way of feeling better and releasing my emotions my safe place for me was to talk to my bff but my mom hates my bff and is trying to take any way of comutcation away from me so i have nothing my bff was all i had to talk to without jugdge me she is even ttrying to change middleschools so i cant go to school with her .. and she takes my phone away all day and makes me work like a slave day doing homework cleanig my room taking care of the farm animals taking care of the garden taking care of her wants and needs ect its too much for me to handle it gives me a headache and makes my musales sore .

  21. Casey, Is your mom open to you going to a counselor? It would be good for you to have someone to talk about how your feeling, why you’re cutting, and what you are going through. Your mom is definitely hard on you, but it sounds like she probably cares…in her own way. I would ask her about seeing a counselor and you could also make an appointment (when you go back to school) with the school counselor. Some people have a difficult time showing empathy or understanding what someone else is going through. Try to explain to your mom why your bff is so important to you and how you need close friends you can trust. Also, you can chat with us any night of the week and get more help and resources at: Also, we have a great free eBook to help you understand and deal with self-harming:

  22. last year in february i was sexually assaulted repeatedly and then again later in 2019. i realised that this sexual assault had been going on way before i knew about it, because i was too innocent when i was younger. he was a family friend of ours and it took me six months to tell my parents and closest friends. my parents reacted in such a bad way and this caused me to not tell them about me cutting. ive been cutting ever since the second sexual assault (10 months), after i realised that i would never forget what happened to me and it would always haunt me. my parents havent noticed about me cutting, but ive told a few of my friends cos they noticed at school. i do it to make me actually feel something, and to distract myself from seeing the sexual assault replay over in my head constantly. i have panic attacks when i wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and sometimes randomly during school, which i hide by asking to g to the bathroom quickly and trying to calm down. i was seeing a psych for sexual assault but during quarantine i stopped seeing her obviously and i have got a lot worse, and begun cutting really deep in my wrist. i dont want to tell my parents. i dont know what to do 🙁

  23. Emily, Your cutting has increased since not seeing your therapist over quarantine, so that tells me therapy was helping. Definitely get back to it! Contact your psychologist and tell them you need to meet with them. You’ve suffered intense trauma from the sexual assaults. You’ve got deep, underlying emotions from this that need to be brought to the surface, talked about and dealt with. Cutting can be dangerous and I don’t want to see you die from self-harming. Even if your parents react badly again, it’s better to tell them so they can make a way for you to get the help you need. Also, here is all the help and resources we have for self-harm:

  24. im 15 and i started self~harming in grade 6. i had some older friends who did it, so i tried it. it can start for simple reasons like that. i dont remember trying it for the first time but im ok with that. all my “friends” would give me blades so to me it was normal. anyway i switched schools and it wasent till grade 8 when my teacher noticed my ankles. she kept me after class, she was like “god made you perfect through his eyes” and so forth… and that hit me. she had to tell my parents and i remember being terrified. but when i got home, we never talked bout it. so i continued to struggle and grade 9 was probaly the worst year. we still havent talked about “it” even though i was in the hospital for it, and they got plenty more phone calls. so me and my school counselor fought for the whole year to get in for intake, my parents never helped. (oh but sometimes they would say stuff like, “your just like your birth mom” and “its embarrassing to be your ‘mom'”. anyway, i got in and they got me a therapist. i still slipped up. im human. but i had to keep getting back up.
    its now been another year and a half, and yes im still struggling but i am also still here, alive, and i think thats pretty amazing.
    and yes its hard, sometimes people just dont understand, sometimes we will mess up, and we make mistakes and mess up, but we cant just give up. and if we cant fight for ourselves, find something worth fighting for. and then you can say you found something worth fighting for in a world that felt like nothing. fight to prove the others wrong, the ones that didnt understand. they didnt understan the simple facts, we sometimes dont know why we do it, we somestimes dont want to cut, but we end up doing it anyways, god knows why. maybe they will never understand, and thats okay, because i still dont understand. we are all human. no we are not weak, we are still fighting, its just a fight you cant see. ~im sorry i know this is for parents but i just needed to get that out~

  25. Marcus, you’ve been on quite a journey and I love that you didn’t give up and found something worth fighting for. And now you are on here encouraging others that they can find something worth living for too.

  26. These wouldn’t work because I’m black, and I guess when your black your parents don’t care. Like when I cut I have to hide it or else my mom was getting angry with me and threaten to kick me out. That im joking about this and I’m just doing this because my white friends are doing it when it’s really just me :/

  27. Im 15 and im autisic and ive ben self harming for 3 yeas it stardtd after my only frend atemtid suicid and it seam that my parents have frgotin about it my we left my dad becus he was abusive and if i had a melt down he whod hit me and call me retardid and drage me by my hair up the starins and lock me in my roome for somitms howers i have slective mutisum so i cuod never talk about feling and a lening disabiliy i i dont even kow if enny one even can rede thise so im stuk insid my self until i die

  28. though i don’t cut, my mom noticed the scarring on it from my scratching. when i told her about it, she hardly cared. she told me thst she felt guilty but everyone my age goes through the same things i do and then left because i wasnt responding to her

    she also told me that getting irritated at noises hurts my dad’s feelings in the same one-sided conversation but thats unrelated

  29. Hello Anonymous, a lot of parents don’t understand why their child cuts or how to help them so they respond in anger. I’d love for them and your parents as well to be able to read this information and have a better understanding of the why, and how to help. If that is not a possibility, then please seek help elsewhere. There are lots of avenues to get help. A good place to start is TheHopeLine. Chat is open every night and our HopeCoaches are awesome:

  30. Scratching is another form of self-harm. Something we often tend to do as humans, is make other people’s issues about our self. Your mom felt guilty at first, and blamed herself, when in reality it might have nothing to do with her. So, it’s easier for her to ignore it and move on. If you trust her, I would say approach her again and open up about it again and some of the life frustrations you have. Also, we have lots of ways to get help for self-harm. Here’s a good place to start:

  31. Yes, I can read what you wrote! You’ve been through a lot of hard things in your 15 years. But you don’t have to stay stuck in your own head. That’s actually why were are here…to help you figure out life and work through your thoughts. God has a purpose and a plan for your life! Why don’t you chat with us at so we can talk more about what’s going on.

  32. I’m turning 12 soon and I started cutting when I was 9ish. I was clean for 2 years and I keep relapsing for small periods. How do I tell my parents?

  33. It took me a long time to realize my mom actually cared, but didn’t know how to show that in a helpful way. I started self harming when I was 13, and continued doing it regularly until I was 19. When she found out, she would scream at me at how awful a thing I was doing was, and would take me to the bathroom once a week and make me strip down to my bra and underwear to “take note” of how much I hurt myself in the last week. That’s when I started cutting in even more hidden places until she was satisfied I was done, then went back to my preferred places, but was even more secretive and paranoid. To this day, I’m 23 now, I still have the urges, but rarely act on them. I have 4 cuts from the duration of the pandemic currently, and I’m proud to say that’s all I did in the last year. A lot of parents mean well, but don’t understand how to cope with the information, and end up making things worse. I recovered when I moved in with my then boyfriend, now fiance, and he showed me only support and love and comfort. He never got upset with my behaviors, he never took anything away, he never punished me, but he also went out of his way to check in frequently and offer activities that could be distracting enough to keep me from my self harm. To this day, when I feel the urges, I knit. It’s a good, repetitive habit to get into, in my opinion.

    So, for any parents here looking for advice, don’t punish or belittle your child. Instead give them comfort and patience and unconditional love, and work with them.

    As for the children looking for help, though you may or may not find someone as patient as I did, please be patient with yourself. Everyone I know who harmed themselves wanted to do better, and I’m sure you do as well, but it’s a process, and I believe in you.

    And as a final note, therapy is amazing. If you can, get yourself or your child in to talk to a professional, because that will absolutely do a world of wonders. It’s the best thing I could have ever done for myself.

  34. Em, if you have loving supportive parents, it is important to be honest with them. I would start by asking if there is a time you can set aside to just talk. Once you sit down with them, start by sharing some of the good things going on in your life. Then you can move to explaining what you are going through – the hard stuff, the raw emotions. And then you can explain how you were clean from cutting for awhile but have relapsed recently. Parents want to feel needed and a part of your life. You can ask them to help you get counseling. You can ask them to support you and love you. It’d be good to send them a link to this article so that they can get an idea of why you cut and that you aren’t suicidal but you are dealing with internal pain.

  35. I don’t self harm anymore but I have very prominent scars from when I used to. My mom always tells me to cover them up so I get very insecure about wearing short sleeve tops in the summer. I think she’s embarrassed to be seen with someone with scars. She says “people are going to find that scary.” I wish she didn’t make me feel so bad about it. Whenever I feel confident enough to wear something that shows skin, she tells me to put foundation on or change into something else. I don’t think she means any harm but it’s hurtful. It’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life, I wish she could just accept it.

  36. Kare, Praise God, you have found a better way of dealing with the pain in life. Maybe you could tell your mom, these scars remind me of where I’ve been and how I’ve been healed and changed. Help me, mom, to be confident with who I am. I can’t change those scars, but I have hope for a good future.

  37. My mum would not give a Damn if I did this because everything she says that the people who do this are stupid and my friend now somehow my crush did it because of being neglected and and always had their opinion SHUT like mine but mine just fight a lot and I felt like I’m trans and she didn’t accept it and my dad is homophobic and so I somehow feel violent for some reason and not liking my dad touching me I try not to cut myself and I think that I might have a certain kinda day dreaming but I pace around to do my dreaming and my mom just call me crazy and stupid .

  38. the first time i did wasn’t long it go in fact it was only a week ago i been struggling with my emotions and I have a lot of mood swings i remember me in my room alone and i was 100% fine at that time but suddenly i felt the urge to cry and i did and i couldn’t stop i didn’t know what to do so i cut myself and i finally understood why people did it i stopped crying and went to sleep but now i can’t stop doing it or thinking about it i feel like i deserve it my grades are low I’m failing all my classes im trying to hide it from my mom she doesn’t know and i won’t ever tell her bc i don’t know if I would be able to handle her reaction. IDK what to do

  39. My grandmother has custody over me and I think I’m being emotionally and verbally abused by her and my uncle. I started cutting over a year ago and only yesterday I threw away my blades. I have a counselor but she tells my grandmother what I tell her in our meetings. She is very controlling and I get constantly grounded, threatened, belittled, and compared to my past self and siblings. I’m on here without her knowledge and I’m going to delete my search history after this. I normally get called slurs such as retarded or whore. My sexuality is pan and poly. I’m the only person in our home that is a part of the lgbtq+ community. What still hurts is when I first came out as bi and she accepted me. But when I figured out myself more and started dating two others she was disgusted with me and said my reason for not believing in god was because I was dating two people. I loved both of then but I was forced to break up with one of them. She also said I hid it from her because I knew it was wrong, I didn’t hide my relationship because of that. I knew she would react like that. This happened over five months ago. She also threatens to send me away The places she threatened to send me away to were my mothers, juvy, and a mental hospital. I don’t want to be sent away. I am terrified of her and my uncle. They both have anger issues and I can’t speak my thoughts anymore. I had to help raise my siblings when I was 7. The only support I have is my online brother, online family, and online friends. My mental state is really bad and I’m only 14.

  40. It can be extremely difficult to share these things with your parents. If you have a strong trusting relationship with your mom, it’s good to share how you are feeling with her and just let her know you are struggling. We at TheHopeLine are also here for you. Chat with us any night of the week to talk about what’s going on, how you’re feeling and we can give you ways to cope and help you to stop self-harming.

  41. Throwing away your blades is a great first step! It is important to continue to search for and get help so you don’t go back to cutting. I would be honest with your counselor, and ask them for ways to cope and how to deal with your frustrations and the verbal and emotional abuse. We also have lots of help for mental health at including chat where you can talk with us any night of the week about what’s going on and we will give help and advice.

  42. Hi, I am a parent and all I can think how wrong I’ve been this whole time. I just found out my daughter (12 yrs) is self harming and not sure how long she has been doing. My first reaction was anger and not trying to understand why she is doing it. I know she has not been herself and most likely depressed. My wife and I tried talking, doing things she likes, even bought her the stuff she needs. We noticed she acts this ways when she gets in trouble for not doing her chores or just not making the right decision. In multiple occasions, we sat down with her and cried with her trying to understand what she is going through. We found out she is reading and accessing content online not appropriate for her age and searching for very dark things on her phone. As parents, we react by taking away her phone but it seems to only make it worse. At this point, we decided to take her to a behavioral clinic and honestly not really sure if that was the right decision. We care for our daughter and will do anything to help her.

  43. Juan, you are doing so many things right as a parent! Communicating with your daughter, loving on her, listening to her…these things are so important. Your daughter cutting is a result of deeper hurt, that she may not be able to explain or even fully understand herself. Social media and online threats can lead to very destructive behavior. We happen to have a free training event tomorrow that is about just this thing. Keeping Your Kids Safe Online. If you can’t attend tomorrow on May 1st, you can register and watch it later for 72 hours for free. Check it out and use the tools we have to protect your daughter online. We also have lots of other help and resources for cutting, depression, self-worth online at our main website: Here’s where to register for the free training event to protect your daughter online:

  44. I feel useless and i cut myself a lot on my arms. My parents verbally abuse me a lot and i am failing at school. I feel like if I told my parents, they would think i am doing this to get attention. I wish to ask for help from someone in person but I just can’t. I’ve grown up never asking for help for a lot of my mental illnesses. I have never opened up to anyone about my mental illness problems. I don’t think mental illness is important because I am distant a lot. The way I see it is, ” I cut myself because your words hurt me.” not really good at explaining but i feel like its more than just their words. I don’t know what to tell them if they ask me why i cut myself.

  45. @eseta You say you’re not good at explaining yourself, but you did a great job. It’s never a good idea to keep all your emotions bottled up, it can lead to cutting as you’ve seen but also depression, self-loathing, and more. This month happens to be Mental Health Awareness. The awareness is so people know it’s okay to talk about our mental health. You need to tell your parents what’s going on and ask them if you could see a counselor. In the meantime, our HopeCoaches are available to chat every night at:

  46. Im 12, ive been self harming for like 3 months now, not sure though im bad with time. i dont really know why i do this, i did it first when the first quarter of 6th grade was almost over, i had an F in math and my mom told me to finish it all, i love my mom so much, she is amazing but she got mad and yelled at me, reasonable. she went into the bathroom and i ended up taking a tape dispenser and scraped/cut my arm, i felt like i was punishing myself, it also felt somewhat relieving. after that i took apart a razor and hid the blades. a few days later i just felt so stressed, i had overall good grades but only a d in math, i hated that i couldn’t fix it, i would just hit my thigh when i thought about it but it didnt feel like enough so i went into the bathroom and sat there for a while thinking about everything, my siblings poking fun at me about how much i eat, my grades,my looks, how i always end up screwing things up for so someone else and just how i always felt sad or empty, i ended up cutting my thighs, guess that weight thing makes me feel the worst. every day or two either my brother will joke about how i eat all the random food in the house, ill fuck up again, or ill just feel numb and ill end up cutting. i feel like im doing this for attention, i feel like i dont cut deep enough or frequently enough for it to count as self harm. my mom has depression, she has self harmed before (i can see the scars on her arm) but i feel like i dont deserve help, its not as bad as other peoples and i give hints about it, i feel like its not ad enouh to invoke worry.

  47. Hello! My name is Bailey.
    I’ve been cutting for as long as I’ve known, and it’s a huge habit i cant get rid of. I just need a bit of advice. When I told my mom and sister I cut, my mother offered me therapy. I accepted. I was so happy that I was finally getting something I was always waiting for. Someone to notice and care. But after that day was gone nobody talked about it. Nobody checked up on me. Nothing. It’s been a whole year since then. Now, when my sister and mom see my recent and old scars… they just told me to “stop.” And “never do it again” I just keep falling fell into this burden of sadness again. I thought I was finally getting the attention I’ve received and getting help. How do I confront them again? It’s super hard. And I don’t think I have the courage to tell them that I need therapy again. It’s too expensive and I feel as if I told them, they’d get angry at me. And think I’m a burden. Recently My brain has been convincing me to kill myself. Telling me everything will be okay if I just get it over with. Should I maybe try to heal it on my own? It’s hard. And I don’t know what to do. I’m scared of myself. I thought maybe coming here would help even a little? Maybe should I call someone? Police? Friend? What if they think I’m a burden too? It’s just too stressful.

  48. Hi Bailey! You can definitely reach out and chat with us about these struggles! Open every night at:

    Baily, know that you were made to live and not just live but live well. You were made to love and be loved, to give and be given to, to experience the goodness of God and life. You don’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed because of your self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Therapy is definitely a good thing to go to. Your mom could just be thinking she won’t worry about it unless you bring it up. You should bring it up. Sometimes it does cost money, but you, your life, and your mental health are worth it. If you keep stuffing all your emotions and just keeping them in your own head, it can lead you to feeling over the edge. But if you can release them, and get a different perspective, you can begin to find ways to cope and find healing.

  49. Hey River, what you are doing is a form of self-harm. When we have deep needs and emotions and don’t know what to do with them or how to process them…it comes out in different ways and self-harm is one of those ways it’s showing up in your life. That relief you feel after you do it, is your body feeling pain and then relief from the pain. You can experience that same thing when you talk about your feelings (the pain) and then let some of them go and not bottle them up (relief of pain). There are many ways of copying. Therapy would be a great place for you to start. SOmeone to help you think through everything. ALso, you can chat with us at We’re open for chat every night of the week.

  50. I don’t think people understand that the satisfaction of putting a blade to your skin cannot be replaced. The sharp stingy pain and the crimson blood simply cannot be compared to holding ice, or snapping a rubber band on your skin, or any of the other ‘substitutes fro self harm’. That’s why self harm is so addictive. It’s like a drug, because it does something to you that nothing and no one else can. And that’s the main thing that I wish people understood about my self harm.

  51. Absolutely, you are so right. Self-harm is extremely addictive and nothing can “replace” it; just like nothing can replace a drug of choice. But it is harmful and you can find ways to cope with pain, stress, emotions without self-harming. But it will take determination, want-to, and many times addiction takes help from outside forces. If you are interested in support and help, it’s available.

  52. I think you need to mention that the initial reactions parents may have, such as the ‘What did I do wrong for you to want to do this?’ or the ‘How could you do this to me, I thought I raised you well!’ are all emotionally manipulative and have no place in a conversation where your child’s struggling has come to light. This is not about you, and it has nothing to do with your feelings. Yes, you are impacted by it, but you are not feeling the hurt and pain that your child is. It is easy to judge someone who has fallen victim to other addictive substances, such as drugs or alcohol, but keep in mind that they are offered help and support, such as counseling and rehab programs. Your child falls into this same category. Self harm is extremely addicting, and whether your child is a minor or an adult, their pain is equally as valid. Get them help. Give them love. There is no reason to shame them and belittle them for something they did because they needed to cope with their pain. Rather, I would ask you to thing to yourself why they didn’t come to you instead of trying to deal with their hurt by themselves? For me, it was because my parents, my mother specifically, are emotionally manipulative, and they refuse to admit it. When they found out about my scars, the only thing offered to me was ‘how could you do this to me?’ and ‘I’m disappointed’ and not a single word of ‘how can I help?’ or ‘even though you are hurting, know that I love you.’ If your immediate answer isn’t that you will love and support your child no matter what happens, then don’t give them an answer at all.

    One extremely important thing to know: Guilting your child will only make them feel worse and feel more pain, and the coping mechanism they will use to solve that pain will be to cut. And taking their tools away from them and restricting them will make life more worse than you can imagine. When they have their tools, a large percentage of self-harmers know and willingly self harm SAFELY by disinfecting their tools before and after, performing appropriate aftercare and so on. Taking all of that away makes them desperate. They will use their fingernails, bash their body against a sharp corner of furniture, and use rusty and dull objects in order to relieve the pain. This leads to more serious injuries, and them performing acts that are so unsafe can lead to infection and more dangerous results. Your child can end up in the emergency room with their life in danger because ‘you thought you knew better.’ You don’t. Do your research. If your child truly cannot stop, get them to a psychiatrist or a therapist, and if they get more unhinged and more out of control, look into admitting them to a recovery facility of some sort. But never act without telling them and discussing why you think this is best. This is a journey, but most importantly, it is their journey. You do not get to decide the best way for them to heal, only they can.

    I am mentioning this next part because I find most self harming people fall under this category. If you notice your child consistently self-harming despite seeming stable and healthy, I would recommend getting them to a therapist and taking them to a drug store to get them proper bandages. Yes, we don’t want to encourage self harm, but we want to make sure that they are safe and not reusing old gauze pads and inviting bacteria into fresh wounds which encourages infection. Get them proper items to help them heal and discuss seeing someone who can help them talk out their feelings and help them solve this. Be smart, keep your child safe, let them know they are loved, and support them every step of the way, regardless of what they tell you and what comes to light.

  53. Rowan, As someone who has been there, we appreciate the insights you shared in your comments.

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