SAN ANTONIO – Local counselors say more teenagers are self-harming, and it’s starting as young as middle school.
Self-harming can mean anything from head banging to cutting. It usually has nothing to do with suicide, and everything to do with stress and anxiety.
"It makes me sad,” says local blogger and family advocate Mandy Majors.
She runs nextTalk.org, nonprofit devoted to keep kids safe online. The group alerted us to the trend of more local families coming forward to say their middle schoolers are self-harming.
"That's really alarming now, because it's at such a young age,” Majors says.
At The Vine Wellness Group, counselor Brittany Christiansen says most of her teenage clients admit to hurting themselves. She calls it’s a physical manifestation of emotional pain.
"It's really just a cry for help,” Christiansen says. "The physical act of cutting, or even we see head banging or nail digging or skin picking or hair pulling, and all of these things link to things that are underneath it."
She says kids will try to hide it at all costs.
"They will cut in places that you don't see,” Christiansen says.
Self-harming is a negative coping skill to deal with stress from school, sports or their social lives.
"It's their way of being able to release that pent-up emotion, that pent-up anxiety or fear, even,” Christiansen says.
Majors encourages parents to talk to their pre-teens about self-harming because chances are, they already know it’s happening.
"In our kids' world, it's pretty common,” she says. "When you see your little kids stressed out about a situation, try to talk with them and say, ‘Let's think of some healthy ways that we can get you to deal with this stress.’”
If there are any kids out there who need someone to talk to, Crisis Text Line is available around the clock. Just text HELLO to 741741 to talk to a counselor for free.
By EMILY BAUCUM