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Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI)

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) can be a topic that is uncomfortable and overwhelming

for the whole family. If your child is engaging in these behaviors, it is important to know that this is often a way to cope with big emotions. NSSI involves intentionally harming oneself without the intent to end one’s life; this can include methods such as cutting, burning, and scratching.


Heavy or intense emotions can be extremely hard to navigate, especially when you don’t

have the words to describe how you feel. Physical pain is tangible, identifiable, and can be traced back directly to the intentional harm caused; emotional pain is much more difficult to navigate. If you have discovered your child is engaging in NSSI; you are not alone, 17.2% of adolescents experience Non-Suicidal Self Injury.


Despite the initial fear this may evoke; it is important to recognize that this behavior

signifies their attempt to manage and seek relief from strenuous emotions. Understanding this can mark the beginning of their healing journey; now involving you in their process of seeking support and finding healthier coping mechanisms.


While learning that your child is self-harming can be deeply distressing, your support and

understanding are incredibly powerful. Creating a safe, non-judgmental environment where your child feels comfortable sharing their feelings is essential. Encourage open and empathetic conversations, showing that you are there to listen and support them without judgment. Seeking professional help together, such as therapy, can provide the necessary tools and strategies for managing and overcoming these behaviors.


It can be easy to jump to conclusions when faced with Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI),

but understanding the underlying reasons can be much more comforting and effective. Seeking therapy can provide valuable insights and support. Individual therapy helps the child develop healthier coping strategies, while family therapy strengthens communication and bonds. With the right emotional toolkit, your family can overcome NSSI with patience, support, and understanding. - Rebecca Koch Mental Health Counselor Student Intern



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