What are the warning signs of NSSI ?

 

Young people who self-injure often go to great lengths to hide their behaviour and injuries from adults, and tend not to seek professional help for the behaviour. Therefore, it can be difficult to know if your son or daughter has engaged in self-injury. However, parents and carers are often the first to access professional help for their children who self-injure.

Warning signs might include:

 

  • Frequent or unexplained scars and wounds, such as cuts, burns, scratches, and bruises appearing anywhere on the body, such as the arms, torso, and legs. Unexplained bandaging on the body.

  • Frequent wearing of long sleeved/pant clothing at inappropriate times, such as in warm weather, or a reluctance or refusal to participate in activities resulting in skin exposure, such as physical education classes or swimming.

  • Collection of paraphernalia which could be used to self-injure or to clean wounds after self-injuring

  • Frequent need for privacy and secretive behaviour.

  • Unexplained withdrawal from activities or deterioration in academic performance and/or personal care.

  • Changes in mood, including frequent irritability, hostility, and anger, uncontrollable crying, or excessive sadness.

  • Frequent mention of self-injury in creative writing, artwork, journals, internet postings, emails, texts, or in communication with others (including jokes, rumours, and threats).

  • Frequent high risk behaviours involving physical risk to your child that exceeds normal adolescent behaviour, or a frequent disregard for personal safety.

 

If you recognise any of these warning signs in your son or daughter you should speak openly and honestly with the your child about your concerns, and access professional help from your paediatrician or family doctor, a local mental health professional, the school counsellor (if available) or the school principal.