Why does our teenage daughter self-harm?

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Q: We think our previously happy 14-year-old daughter is self-harming. She seems to be pulling out her hair and has several grazes on her body. We don’t know what to do.

A: You are not alone: this is a growing problem in the UK and affects at least one in 15 young people, both boys and girls, according to Jane Smith, author of The Parent’s Guide to Self-Harm (Lion Hudson, £7.99*), which I suggest you read. The average age of onset is 12 years but some hospital admissions have been for children under ten. The majority never receive professional care so the burden falls on family and friends.

Many young people who self-harm come from stable, loving homes. Jane, whose two daughters were affected, says, ‘Finding out that the child you love feels driven to hurt themselves in secret comes as a huge shock; it’s heart-breaking.’

There is a wide range of severity. Self-harming can be minor and short-lived but it may also become addictive and serious. Read More…