Self-harm amongst adolescents

Having worked in an adolescent therapeutic community, I observed how the young people who attempted suicide through overdose, would talk at length about their experiences which I was very happy to discuss with them. Others who cut themselves would respond with few words, or non-verbally and I wondered about this. I was aware that deliberate self-harm may not be an attempt at suicide but quite the opposite, a way of coping to maintain life.

A great deal has been written about why young people cut themselves but little about why our adolescents stop cutting? I am interested in what changes take place for cutting to stop.

Hopefully, through being better informed, we can all respond safely to those who start to manage to communicate their distress in words, starting to share about what appear to be taboo subjects - deliberate self-harm and suicide. It is our responsibility to be able to receive disclosures about feeling unsafe and suicidal ideation in a way that shows thought and care, rather than a startled and reactionary response. I think that it takes time to consider these important issues and to mull over our own feelings and thoughts, to be able to offer containment to someone who tells us about these painful issues.

I wonder how many people in London, with all the pressures of homelessness, unemployment, work and families feel suicidal, perhaps more frequently than can be talked about.

Having worked, trained and read about self-harm and suicide for many years, I feel confident to be able to offer a safe, secure and confidential space where people of all ages can express about their thoughts and experiences of self-harm and attempted suicide. Hoping that the building of trust may start to help the person to feel safer and as a relationship develops, the painful memories can start to unfold and be processed.

If you have thoughts of self-harming or suicide, please get in contact and I will do what I can to help you through to a better place in your self and life context. You don't have to suffer in silence. 

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Written by Helen Holmes

I have been working with children and adolescents for over 30 years, in schools, NHS wards and community gang services. Seeing many lives change for the better, is the best news ever, since I think that all human life is precious and that everyone has something valuable to contribute to our planet. What do you think about this article?… Read more

Written by Helen Holmes

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