Self Harm & Suicidal Ideology

According to The Children’s Society “75% of young people who are experiencing mental health problems aren’t receiving treatment.” As a parent you can sometimes think that your child is being dramatic or ‘just a teenager’ or ignore things due to ‘hormones’ however these ‘I want to die’ or ‘I want to kill myself’ rants and what we may deem as attention seeking posts on digital platforms can often be a cry for help. Although their problems may not seem important or superficial, they are important to them and your child needs to know you are listening.

Discovering that your child has been having suicidal thoughts or been harming themselves can be an overwhelming emotional experience. Mental illness, depression and/ or suicidal thoughts can affect anyone at any time in their lives it does not matter how old they are or their background. Often like an adult there are few signs that a child would want to harm themselves or end their life. It may not always be apparent that your child has depression or suicidal thoughts as they may not express any of the typical characteristics in their day to day life or their contact with you however, these thoughts and feelings may be reflected in their cyber space or you may be able to spot some other characteristics or symptoms. Due to technological advancement it is a lot easier for children to find information they need; they can use the dark web to find out how to harm themselves and even learn from others how to do so via blogs and forums.

There are a number of reasons why a child could potentially want to end their life or harm themselves. It could be due to mental or physical issues, a change in circumstances, or even that they can’t see a way out of a situation for example bullying, gambling or abuse. Even if your child has not expressed suicidal thoughts to you, you can look out for some signs that may identify that they may have an issue.

Please seek professional advice and do not try to diagnose your child yourself.

What is Suicidal Ideation?

Suicide is the act of intentionally taking your own life. According to the Samaritans ‘The rate of deaths among under 25s increased by 23.7%, reaching 730 deaths from suicide in 2018. Additionally, research from the NHS suggests that 1 in 8 children suffer with mental health problems. Suicidal thoughts (also known as suicidal ideology) may not be visible to the people around the child who is having these thoughts. You may notice that your child become preoccupied with death or you may be able to spot some physical or digital signs.

There are several signs that you can look for if you think your child may have mental health issues or could be self-harming or depressed. Please see professional advice and do not try to diagnose your child yourself.

  • If they are living with or mental, physical or progressive illness.
  • If they are experiencing mental or physical abuse.
  • Being bullied face to face or cyberbullied (find out more about cyber bullying)
  • If they are suffering bereavement after losing a loved one.
  • If they are being forced to marry.
  • They could also have very low self-worth or feeling hopelessness.
  • Have they become withdrawn from friends and family? This could also be that they spend more or less time with their digital network or on digital
  • Persistent low mood and unhappiness?
  • Is your child tearful and irritable
  • Being very preoccupied with death.
  • Has your child been drawing or writing about death or suicide?
  • Does your child have worries that stop them from carrying out day to day tasks?
  • Does your child have sudden outbursts of anger directed at themselves or others?
  • Has your child had a loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy?
  • Does your child have problems eating or sleeping?

Digital signs to look for if you think your child may be having suicidal thoughts…

.• Posting more frequently This could be as they have low self-confidence and are looking for validation from the content  they are posting

Posting less than usual – These can be they are showcasing feelings or worthlessness or inadequacy, hopelessness and they may even withdraw socially or digitally. Does your child not post as much as they were? This could be due to the fact that they can see themselves as unimportant or additionally if they feel they do not fit in or have feelings of worthlessness. Many children/young people post solely so they get likes and so that they are popular within their digital network. However, on the flip side of this their digital network can also be a form social exclusion for others so they do not feel like they want to post (learn more about social comparison theory) . Additionally, some young please also have two profiles on the same platform, one for their friends and another that is open to the public. Additionally they could also have a secret social platform from their family to hide other behaviour that is undesirable but desirable to their online community.

Being interested in different shows from usual and they could also be looking at age inappropriate content- Your child could potentially become interested in websites or forums that talk about suicide, self harm or death or look for specific ways in which they can hurt themselves.

Sharing content that makes you question their mood- Your child could post song lyrics or quotes that can make you worried. Talk to your child face-to-face about how they are feeling do not write under the post for them to remove etc as it may embarrass them and you will possibly shut them off completely.

They could also be unusually secretive about their phone – Most young people are secretive about their phone, they could remove you from their social media or not use their phone around you.

Showcasing self-harm scars –There are a number of children who showcase or highlight their self-harm scars on photos to peers. It could be an unusual hand placement. As a parent you may not notice this however their peers or other people who perform the same type of self-harm would notice, for example a hand looking like it is gently placed on the wrist could be emphasising their most recent scars, cuts or bruises. Additionally, they can use the likes as validation to continue their behaviour as they feel that their peers approve of this behaviour.

Are they unusually interested about death, sharing content or visiting content online about death or suicide?

Who can you contact if your child is experiencing Suicidal Ideology?

If you feel like your child is in imediate danger, please dial 999 or the relevant professional body. To find out more information from the following organisations, click on the buttons below.

What is Self-Harm

Self-harm is where a person can cause physical harm to themselves however this is often due to a mental illness or depressive thought. When a child self-harms this can be due to feeling a lack of control in their life. Although you may be able to spot bruises and cuts etc your child will try hard to cover these up this can be done using long sleeved items or just say they accidentally hurt themselves. However, you can look for patterns e.g in the bruises are they always in the same area? Do the cuts always appear clean? Are they in the same direction you may be able to tell they are self-inflicted?

Why would a child want to harm themselves?

If you feel at any time that your child is in harm or could harm themselves, please get professional advice immediately. Do not try to deal with this on your own, talk to professionals and people you trust about the right course of action for your child and you may need a little help too. If you feel like what your child is going through a distressing, we understand that this can impact on you as a parent and you may also need someone to talk to yourself.

Signs to look for if you think your child may be self harming…

There are several signs that you can look for if you think your child may have mental health issues or could be self-harming or depressed. Please see professional advice and do not try to diagnose your child yourself.

  • If they are living with or mental, physical or progressive illness.
  • If they are experiencing mental or physical abuse.
  • Being bullied face to face or cyberbullied (find out more about cyber bullying)
  • If they are suffering bereavement after losing a loved one.
  • If they are being forced to marry.
  • They could also have very low self-worth or feeling hopelessness.
  • Most often cuts, bruises and burns appear on the head, wrists, arms, thighs and chest, while some bald patches appear from a child pulling out hair.
  • Have they become withdrawn from friends and family? This could also be that they spend more or less time with their digital network or on digital.
  • Persistent low mood and unhappiness?
  • Is your child tearful and irritable
  • Being very preoccupied with death.
  • Has your child been drawing or writing about death or suicide?
  • Does your child have worries that stop them from carrying out day to day tasks?
  • Does your child have sudden outbursts of anger directed at themselves or others?
  • Has your child had a loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy?
  • Does your child have problems eating or sleeping?

Digital signs to look for if you think your child may be self harming…

.• Posting more frequently – This could be as they have low self-confidence and are looking for validation from the content  they are posting

Posting less than usual – These can be they are showcasing feelings or worthlessness or inadequacy, hopelessness and they may even withdraw socially or digitally. Does your child does not post as much as they were? This could be due to the fact that they can see themselves as unimportant or additionally if they feel they do not fit in or have feelings of worthlessness. Many children/young people post solely so they get likes and so that they are popular within their digital network. However, on the flip side of this their digital network can also be a form social exclusion for others so they do not feel like they want to post (change your child attitude to social media) . Additionally, some young please also have two profiles on the same platform on for their friends and another that is open to the public, additionally they could also have a secret Instagram from their family to hide other behaviour that is undesirable. 

Being interested in different shows from usual and they could also be looking at age inappropriate content- Your child could potentially become interested in websites or forums that talk about suicide or death or look for specific ways in which they can hurt themselves.

Sharing content that makes you question their mood- Your child could post song lyrics or quotes that can make you worried. Take to your child face-to-face about how they are feeling do not write under the post for them to remove etc as it may embarrass them and you will possibly shut off completely.

They could also be unusually secretive about their phone – Most teenagers are secretive about their phone however have they removed you from their social media or not use their phone around you.

Showcasing self-harm scars –There are a number of children who showcase or highlight their self-harm scars on photos to peers. It could be an unusual hand placement where as a parent you would not notice however their peers or other people who perform the same type of self-harm would notice, for example a hand looking like it is gently placed on the wrist could be emphasising their most recent scars, cuts or bruises. Additionally, they can use the likes as validation to continue their behaviour as they feel that their peers approve of this behaviour.

Who can you contact if your child is self harming?

If you feel like your child is in imediate danger, please dial 999 or the relevant professional body. To find out more information from the following organisations, click on the buttons below.

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