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Helping a Son Who Cuts Himself


About a week ago, we found out that our 17-year-old son is cutting himself. My son doesn’t want to talk about it. He was originally hiding the cuts, but now he is hurting himself openly. How can I help him if he doesn’t want to get professional help or even acknowledge his problem?


The intervention needed for teenagers who self harm is to identify if this is an attempt to deal with difficult emotions and relieve tension or something worse. If they are cutting to deal with difficult emotions, it is helpful for them to learn the skill of identifying their feelings. Then they can learn how to express their feelings by talking about them or writing them down. This begins to help them decrease the pressure they are feeling and to lighten their emotional load. Similar to letting the air out of a balloon, it serves to deflate the crisis.

As he learns to identify and express​ his feelings, he will be better able to solve the problems that lead to the difficult feelings. Advocating for himself will build positive self-esteem and confidence and ward off symptoms of depression.

He is welcome to call the hotline as a resource to talk about his emotions and to gain support and suggestions to successfully work through them. Our hotline is available at 1-800-448-3000.