Suicide

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Cutting & Other Self-Harm: What Every Parent Needs to Know    Every parent’s worst nightmare is their child being hurt. From baby gates to GPS tracking apps, parents spend lots of time and money on making sure their kids are safe. But what about when their child is the one inflicting the pain? When a child deliberately injures their body without the intention of dying, it is called Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). Shockingly, NSSI is a growing problem that usually starts in children between the ages of 12 & 14. Teens who resort to NSSI have trouble expressing their emotions in healthy ways. So how can parents reach these kids and help them find safer ways to cope?   If you suspect your child may be at risk for NSSI, here are some things you should know:    1. Clothes can be clues   Common methods of NSSI include skin cutting, scratching, burning, and self-battery, all of which usually leave visible wounds or bruises. If you notice your child wearing sweatshirts in the summer heat, excessive bandages, or chunky wristbands every day, it could be a clue that they are covering up self-injury. Another indication is if they avoid activities that expose much skin such as swimming.      2. It’s not the same as suicide   Any parent would be rightfully scared if their child injured themselves in any way, but it’s important to understand that a child using NSSI does not mean that they want to die. When people want to end their life, they often seek out the most painless way possible. Those who use NSSI on the other hand, often seek pain to distract from their emotional distress, but do so believing that their injuries are not life-threatening. Though it should come as some relief that teens using NSSI usually don’t want to die, professional help should be sought for any type of self-harm. Accidental suicide can result from NSSI and in some cases people who use NSSI have a history of suicide attempts.  If you are concerned that someone you love may be at risk for suicide, call    the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255      3. They cut for a reason   Psychologists know that all behaviors have a function – meaning no matter what a person does, there is something they feel that they are benefitting from it. So what do teens who use NSSI feel that they are getting out of hurting themselves? The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states that people usually resort to NSSI for one or more of the following 3 reasons:       To   obtain relief     from a negative feeling or cognitive state e.g. stress, worry thoughts, loneliness, emptiness    To   resolve     interpersonal conflict e.g family arguments, divorce, sibling rivalry, peer conflict    To   induce     a positive feeling state e.g euphoria, decrease numbness     Their feelings of relief occur during or shortly after the act of self-injury. Understanding why your child is resorting to NSSI can help in guiding you toward the solution.     4. It can be a symptom of other disorders   NSSI can be a stand-alone problem, but it can also be a symptom of other disorders. Conditions that NSSI has been associated with include borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, depression, bipolar disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If a teen shows self-harming behavior, it’s important that they be evaluated by a specialist to determine if they have a mental health diagnosis and need treatment.    Click here to schedule your child’s diagnostic assessment with Dr. Marta M. Shinn, specialist in Child Psychology     5. Criticism will backfire   Trying to guilt or criticize a child out of self-harm won’t work. Often times, they are hurting themselves because of feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. You don’t have to coddle them or let them get away with everything, but try to focus most of your comments on  praising their talents and positive traits.      6. How you respond matters   It’s common for a parent to feel shock, sadness, or fear when they learn their child is harming themselves. Try not to let those emotions show, as that will make your child hesitant to openly talk to you about what they’re dealing with. Ask them how their self-harm has helped them (refer back to the functions of NSSI in point #3). Listen with love and respond without judgement. Let them know that you are there for them, but also let them know if you plan to seek the help of a specialist.     7. Emotional intelligence is key   While you can’t prevent your child from dealing with hardships in life, you do have the power to teach them how to cope with challenges in healthy ways. Emotional intelligence refers to how a person understands and copes with their emotions. Nurturing your child’s emotional intelligence, as well as working on growing your own, can improve communication and healthy expression in your family.     Click here to read our blog on fostering emotional intelligence in your child      8. You are part of the solution   If your child is harming themselves, it’s natural to wonder where you went wrong as a parent. The fact that you are reading this blog shows that you love and care for your child, and you should know that there are many different factors that can contribute to a child resorting to NSSI. A specialist in child psychology will not judge you or your child, but will help identify the challenges your teen is facing, teach your family healthy strategies moving forward, and support you in mending a strong bond.     9. Variations can help   Teen years are tough on both parents and children. Many parents find that they need a little outside help in supporting their teens during these turbulent years. There have been several therapy methods that have successfully reduced self-harming behaviors. If your child or teen has used NSSI, the specialists at Variations Psychology can help.     Cynthia R. Johnson, LMFT , is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. She has years of experience in helping families overcome obstacles including issues related to self-harm. Cynthia works with parents, teens, and children to improve communication and strengthen relationships.      
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia 
       Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D . specializes in supporting men and teenage boys through life’s transitions. Teen boys face a number of challenges as they approach adulthood, and often have a hard time knowing how to understand and express their feelings. If your teenage son has resorted to self-harm, Dr. Sample can provide a safe, stress-free environment for your teen learn healthy coping skills.      
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D ., is an expert in child and educational psychology. When your child is struggling with emotional pain, they are not focusing on learning, friendships, or fun. Dr. Shinn can help your child learn healthy ways to overcome their emotional challenges, so they can find happiness and focus on reaching their life’s potential.      
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life           
     Y.on("domready", function(){
     Y.all('input[name="lname"]').setAttribute("value", "X");
     });
          

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
                   First Name 
                   
                 

                 
                   Last Name 
                   
                 

               
            

          
        

        

          
             
               Email Address 
               
             
          

        

          

        

       

       
            Sign Up    
       

     

    
        We respect your privacy.  
    

     Thank you! 
      

   

 
      Found this article helpful?     Rate and review us on Google and Yelp               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.

Cutting & Other Self-Harm:
What Every Parent Needs to Know

Every parent’s biggest fear is their child getting hurt, but what’s a parent to do when their child is hurting themselves? Check out this week’s blog on Your Teen and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury: What Every Parent Needs to Know

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Should I Let My Teen Watch 13 Reasons Why?   When Netflix released 13 Reasons Why in 2017, the show was met with a slew of controversy. The story takes place in the weeks following the suicide of a high school student named Hannah Baker. The series follows her peers as they unravel her story by listening to 13 tape recordings she left behind. Each tape details how different people in her life contributed to her choice to end her life. Many praised the series for shedding light on serious topics that society critically needs to address. Others felt that it romanticized suicide and would encourage vulnerable viewers toward self-harm.   How do I know if my child can handle it?    While most experts can see both pros and cons to the show, allowing your child to watch it should be a personal decision based on your child’s emotional maturity and mental well-being.   13 Reasons Why is not for everyone, so our specialists have developed these questions to help you decide whether or not to let your child view it:    1. Does my child want to watch it?   If your child hasn’t expressed any interest in viewing 13 Reasons Why, experts don’t believe parents should encourage it. While it’s important to discuss topics such as suicide, mental health, and sexual assault with your child, there are healthier ways to approach these topics than exposing them to the show’s graphic violence. If your child has expressed an interest in viewing the show, ask yourself the following questions before allowing them to do so.   2. Has my child been diagnosed with a mental illness?    If your child has been diagnosed with a mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety, it’s best to not allow them to watch 13 Reasons Why. Even if they have received treatment and their symptoms appear to be stabilized, the themes and images presented in the show may trigger previously harmful thoughts and emotions. Another thing to consider is that suicide has a genetic component; if mental illness and suicide run in your family, it may be wise to avoid letting your child watch the show.   3. What’s been going on in my child’s life lately?   Whether or not your child has a mental illness, consider any stressful or traumatic events that your child may have been exposed to in recent months. Did they move or change schools? Have they witnessed any violence? Did a loved one die? The story line in 13 Reasons Why shows Hannah resorting to self-harm after a series of traumatic events. If your child has recently gone through a difficult time, it is probably not a good time for them to view this series.   4. Can I commit to watching it with my child?    The National Association of Suicide Prevention recommends that children watch the show with a trusted adult. This will enable open communication about the series and will also help you control the rate at which your child watches it. If you’ve ever binge-watched a show with British actors, you may have noticed that after 5 or 6 episodes in, your thoughts start taking on a British accent. Even if your child is emotionally healthy, consuming several hours of the show at once can contribute to increased thoughts surrounding death, self-harm, and suicide.   5. What are their “resiliency resources”?   Resiliency refers to a person’s ability to recover from difficulties. While most people experience depression or trauma at some point in life, those who die by suicide tend to have a very low perception of self-resiliency. Before allowing your child to watch the show, consider their attitude and resources surrounding resiliency. Some questions to ask yourself are:   Does our family openly communicate?  Does my child have high self-esteem?  Is my child well connected with peers and school resources?  What are my child’s religious beliefs about suicide and coping with difficulty?  Does my child have adaptive coping skills? (Do they tend to “roll with the punches” when times get tough, or do they find it hard to adjust when challenges arise?)  Does our family have access to mental health and medical resources?    6. Will I investigate the show’s inaccuracies?    Because there are several aspects of the show that may be perceived in inaccurate or harmful ways, parents should discuss those issues to help their children shed light on the truth. For example, the show gives the sense that Hannah is receiving resolution in death through her tapes that detail how the people she left behind did her wrong. The truth is, when a person dies by suicide there is no resolution. There is no revenge. They don’t get to see the reactions of others after they are gone. They don’t feel a sense of justice or peace. For a helpful resource on concerning inaccuracies in the show,   check out this letter   written by school psychology experts to Netflix and the show’s producers:   7. Am I aware of suicide warning signs?   Before allowing your child to watch 13 Reasons Why, you should familiarize yourself with common red flags of suicide. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms before, during, or after watching the series, you should immediately stop allowing them to view it:   Giving away prized possessions  Behavioral changes – I.e. – withdrawal, increased disciplinary incidents at school, etc.  Changes in their appearance, self-care, or hygiene  Major mood fluctuations (this could include someone that is usually sad acting extremely happy)  Changes in grades and school performance  Preoccupation with death in conversations, social media, drawings, or writings  Suicidal threats – either direct threats such as, “I want to kill myself,” or indirect threats such as, “I want to fall asleep and never wake up”    8. Do I know how to respond to warning signs?    A major criticism of the show has been its portrayal of adults being untrustworthy and incompetent in supporting their kids. Before allowing your child to watch the show, educate yourself on ways to help children that exhibit possible warning signs. If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, here are a few tips for supporting them:   Listen while remaining calm and nonjudgmental  Ask them directly if they’ve considered suicide  Do not minimize their pain (avoid phrases like, “you need to get over it,” or, “this wouldn’t have happened if you would have listened to me in the first place”)  Keep your comments focused on their well-being  Reassure your child that help is available and you are committed to getting them the support they need  Validate their feelings, but assure them that they will not feel this way forever  Do not let your child be left unsupervised  Remove possible tools for self-harm such as firearms, knives, belts, ropes, razor blades, or medications  Get help immediately – never agree to keep their suicidal thoughts a secret    Variations can help      Dr. Jill S. Kapil, Psy.D  ., specializes in supporting teens, young adults, and “millennials” through major life transitions including experiences related to high school or college life, depression, bullying, abuse, or relationship problems. Dr. Kapil empowers her patients to overcome anxiety, low self-esteem, and other stressors that impact their emotional well-being .       
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Kapil. 
        Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D  . specializes in supporting teen and adult men through life’s transitions. While many guys find it challenging to talk openly about their emotions, Dr. Sample is experienced in helping men cope with issues such as relationship struggles, problems at school or work, addiction, anger, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Dr. Sample provides a comfortable place for men to overcome obstacles and gain the tools for leading successful and fulfilling lives.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample. 
        Cynthia Johnson, LMFT  , is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. She has years of experience in supporting families through life’s challenges including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Cynthia works with each family to help them develop healthy coping skills and strengthen relationships between parents, teens, and children.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia.  
        Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D  ., is an expert in child and educational psychology. In many cases, children struggling with suicidal thoughts exhibit at-risk behaviors at school. Dr. Shinn helps families advocate for their child’s rights and understand effective ways to support their child’s mental health management both at school and at home.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn. 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:         
     Y.on("domready", function(){
     Y.all('input[name="lname"]').setAttribute("value", "NA");
     });
          

 
   
     
      
          
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
                   First Name 
                   
                 

                 
                   Last Name 
                   
                 

               
            

          
        

        

          
             
               Email Address 
               
             
          

        

          

        

       

       
            Sign Up    
       

     

    
        We respect your privacy.  
    

     Thank you! 
      

   

 
     The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.    More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice composed of specialists in a variety of psychology domains including Clinical Psychology, School and Educational Psychology, Child Development, Psychological Testing, Educational Testing, and Training.  Our specialists provide therapy to children, adolescents, adults, couples and families.  We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more .

Should I Let My Teen Watch 13 Reasons Why?

When Netflix released 13 Reasons Why in 2017, the show was met with a slew of controversy. The story takes place in the weeks following the suicide of a high school student named Hannah Baker. The series follows her peers as they unravel her story by listening to 13 tape recordings she left behind. Each tape details how different people in her life contributed to her choice to end her life. Many praised the series for shedding light on serious topics that society critically needs to address. Others felt that it romanticized suicide and would encourage vulnerable viewers toward self-harm.

How do I know if my child can handle it?