COVID-19 Resources: Keeping you safe | Vaccine Information | Visitor Policy and Hours
View All Services
Find a New Primary Care Provider
Search by Specialty
View All Locations
Discover classes, events, tours, and groups that fit your interests.
Home > Be Healthy > Health Library > Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in Children
Non-suicidal self-injury means that a person injures themself on purpose. For example, they may cut, scratch, or bite their skin until it bleeds. Self-injury is serious. So it's important to seek help from a health professional. People who self-injure don't do it to die. But some may also be thinking about suicide.
To assess, the doctor may ask how often the injuries happen and if they bleed, bruise, or cause pain. And the doctor may ask how self-injuring makes your child feel. The doctor also may ask questions to find out if your child has other health conditions, like depression.
You can look for things that make self-injury more likely. Children may be at risk if they:
Your child might be self-injuring if they:
If you think your child is self-injuring, talk to a doctor or a mental health professional.
Self-injury is treated with counseling. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are common types of counseling for self-injury. Medicines are sometimes used with counseling. Ask your doctor about the different types of treatment. Then you can decide together about what might work best.
If your child self-injures, here are some ways you can help.
Look for a counselor that your child feels safe with and trusts. You can ask your child's doctor for a referral.
A health professional such as your child's doctor or counselor can help you.
If you are feeling emotional, it's okay to take some time to yourself. It's best to approach your child when you're feeling calm.
Your usual parenting skills likely aren't the right tools to help your child. And you can't make your child stop self-injuring. Time and counseling can help your child get better.
You may want to find a counselor for yourself. And look for a self-injury support group. Ask for help from trusted friends, family, and community members.
These can help you learn how to model healthy coping skills. For example, you can learn how to talk about emotions. And skills like deep breathing and yoga may help you learn how to manage your emotions.
If it's an emergency or if your child is in a crisis, get help right away. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Or text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.
Current as of:
June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Andrew Littlefield PhD - Psychology, Behavioral HealthLesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Andrew Littlefield PhD - Psychology, Behavioral Health & Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.