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Is Your Teen Cutting Themselves? How to get Help and Understand

Iris was Struggling and Hurting Herself: She Desperately Needed Help

Click the play button below to listen or scroll down to read her story.


Facts about Self-Harm: Unexplained Injuries like Cuts, Bruises, or Burns

  • 17% of teenagers in the U.S., engage in some form of self-injury behavior.
  • Mostly girls  between 11 and 14
  • Self-harming behaviors are often the result of emotional distress.
  • Treatment takes time but recovery is possible. 

Teenage Daughter Cutting Herself and Hiding Scars: A Rebellious Teenager helped by Empower My Teen

Iris’s story is a powerful reminder that healing is possible, it is about overcoming hard times, and many families can relate. She was hurting herself and feeling hopeless at times, and turn to self-harm to cope.

When her parents called me they were desperate, but today Iris is strong and healthy.  Her journey to success was paved with resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment.

Reading Iris story may be painful, but it’s important. Her struggles are reminder that you are not alone as a parent and your child CAN get better.

Growing up in a small town with traditional parents, her teenage years were marked by rebellion, defiance, and, sadly self-harm. She felt like an outsider. Her parents are very conservative, and her choices led to conflicts with her father, which often turned physical. 

Her Parents Were Desperate, Scared that One Day She May Go Too Far 

Iris’s desperate parents contacted me, seeking help to save her life. After a thorough, careful assessment, listening to her parents, and speaking to her therapist and school counselor, and reviewing her medical history.


Self-Harm Treatment: Finding the Right Help for Teenagers that are Cutting or Harming Themselves 

I recommended a therapeutic boarding school to help Iris understand her feelings and behavior. Iris needed help finding a new outlet for her emotions. She also needed to catch up academically and bring up her grades. She’d been ditching school.

Iris was anxious about going to a therapeutic school.  This is normal, more often than not, kids want to stay in their familiar environment at home with their friend. In spite of her discomfort she really wanted to get away from her daily situation and she wanted to feel normal, not so inadequate.  In fact, in spite of her anxiety she couldn’t wait to go and she was excited to get away from her every day. 

Self Harm Treatment Centers

The school’s structured environment, supportive staff, and therapeutic interventions allowed Iris to confront her behavior and role in the events that led her to the psychiatric hospital. In TBS, she developed healthier ways to cope with her emotions. After completing the program, Iris returned home, graduated high school, and went on to college.

The time at the therapeutic boarding school marked the start of her journey of self-discovery and healing. She found strength in being her authentic self, embracing her unique interests, and surrounding herself with friends who accepted and supported her unconditionally.

Today, as an adult, Iris continues to thrive, guided by the lessons and coping skills she learned at the therapeutic boarding school. While her relationship with her father remains complex, she has found solace and support in her close bond with her mother and cherished friendships. Iris’s story serves as a reminder that with persistence, the right support, and professional help, healing is possible.


A Message of  Hope for Parents of Teens Who Hurt Themselves on  Purpose

If you know or suspect your teen suffers from Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) teenager, know that you are not alone, and there’s hope. Finding cuts, burns, bruising, severe scratches, carvings or other unexplained injuries is terrifying. Let’s work together toward a path of recovery for your teen and healing for you and your family.


#TeenHealing #ParentingSupport #ThriveTogether #MentalHealthJourney #Self-harm #TeenRecovery

Warning Signs Your Daughter (or Son) Are Hurting Themselves?

  1. Unexplained injuries or scars
  2. Wearing long sleeves or pants in hot weather
  3. Pulling away from family and friends
  4. Being secretive
  5. Signs of distress or emotional turmoil: anxiety, depression, insomnia
  6. Expressing feelings of hopelessness 


Why Do Teenagers Cut Themselves?

  1. Cutting and other common self-injurious behaviors (SBI) are a way of emotional regulation.  Teenagers who hurt themselves do it to relieve the feelings and their emotional upheaval like stress, anxiety caused by conflict, self-image, sometimes bullying and other situations that result in intense emotions that are overwhelming.  These feelings of distress are often released with intentional bodily harm: cutting, scratching, burning, hitting, fresh injuries etc. 

  2. The DSM-5 recognizes NSSI as a medical condition.  They define it as deliberate, self-inflicted destruction of body tissue without suicidal intent. 
  3. There is a link between harming oneself and some mood disorders like borderline personality disorder (BPD.)


Here are three helpful parent resources for teens who engage in self-injury.

  1. Crisis Text Line:

    • Website: Crisis Text Line
    • Description: Crisis Text Line provides free 24/7 crisis support via text messaging. Teens can text “HELLO” to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor who can offer support and resources for dealing with self-harm or other emotional issues.
  2. To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA):

    • Website: To Write Love on Her Arms
    • Description: TWLOHA is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. They provide information, resources, and stories of hope to inspire and encourage teens and young adults.
  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

    • Website: NAMI
    • Description: NAMI offers support and resources for individuals and families affected by mental health issues, including self-harm. They have local chapters across the United States that provide support groups and educational programs to help teens and their families navigate mental health challenges.

Are you Scared for Your Child?

You don’t have to go through this alone.  I can help you find support and understand how to start the healing process. Schedule a FREE consultation, there’s no obligation. 


Self-harm is a serious issue, and if you or someone you know is struggling with self-harm or related mental health issues, we strongly recommend seeking the guidance of a qualified mental health professional first. 


The information provided here is intended for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content presented here is based on general knowledge and research up to the publication date. and its authors strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, but we cannot guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information presented in this article. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek immediate help by contacting a crisis hotline or visiting the nearest emergency room. 

In the United States, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) for confidential support 24/7.


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