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Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Children and Adolescents

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Nov 2020| Content last modified Nov 2020
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What is nonsuicidal self-injury?

Nonsuicidal self-injury is when adults or children:

  • Hurt themselves in ways that clearly aren't meant to cause death, such as scratching, cutting, or burning themselves

Children who hurt themselves:

What causes children to hurt themselves?

Children and teens who hurt themselves may be doing it to:

  • Punish themselves

  • Get attention

  • Try to get help

  • Manage anger or stress

In some high schools, hurting yourself suddenly becomes a fad.

Although the behavior isn't necessarily suicidal, some children are at increased risk of suicide. Those at increased risk include children who:

  • Hurt themselves a lot

  • Use several methods of hurting themselves

  • Talk about suicide or have suicidal thoughts

How can I help children who are hurting themselves?

Because it's hard to tell which children are at risk of suicide, those who injure themselves should see a doctor who specializes in the problems of children and teens. Doctors will assess the risk of suicide and come up with a treatment plan.

How do doctors treat children who hurt themselves?

Doctors treat children who hurt themselves with:

  • Therapy

  • Sometimes, medicine

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