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What Parents & Teens Should Know About Self-Harm

I was 13 years old when I first took the razor to my arm and slashed it over and over again.

I was being bullied. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t drink. I didn’t have a boyfriend. I didn’t want to do any of those things. I wanted to study and get an education. So as a punishment and because teenagers are extremely cruel, I was bullied for being the “good girl”.

These peers of mine didn’t care how badly they hurt me or made me feel. They probably didn’t think that their words were eating away at my self-esteem until I felt so bad, so unworthy, so unwanted that as a release I had to hurt myself.

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Self-harm is not about trying to kill one’s self. It is also not a cry for attention. Most self-harmers hide what they are doing. They do not make it known. So therefore it is difficult to spot.

However, for me at least, it was a way to release that pain, that anger and that hurt. It was also some weird way to punish myself for becoming someone I wasn’t; Invisible, with no self-esteem.

The burning feeling of the razor slashing the arms and then my legs was over in a few seconds because I was slashing away so angrily that the physical pain was gone. It was the emotional pain that I needed to get out, the hurt and the heartache. Once I had done, I covered myself with long sleeves. It is not hard to hide when you are a self-harmer.

Why do teens go for self-harm?

1 in 10 teenagers in the UK will self-harm but because it is such a secret activity, it is so hard to recognize or even stop. However, many people can’t understand the concept of self-harm. Some think it is a cry for help. It isn’t.

Some think it an attempt to take your own life. It isn’t. It is a coping mechanism teenagers go for because with raging hormones, it is hard to cope when bad things happen in life.

Self-harm is not just cutting yourself either. It can be in any form to physically harm the body. I self-harmed by cutting myself until I was 16. After that I self-harmed by hardly eating.

I didn’t have an eating disorder. I didn’t believe I was too fat. I just wanted some way to cope with the emotional pain I was experiencing and from the ages of 13-19 years old, I self-harmed to cope with any major pain that happened in my life.

Parents’ role

Eventually I got help when my mother found out about that one day ; she saw something I had written to a friend. It was left on my desk. I never intended her to see it. One of the hardest things I ever saw in my life was my own mother breaking down asking me what could she do to help me.

She felt she had let me down. It wasn’t that at all. My family hadn’t let me down. I chose not to tell them because of the heartache I knew it would cause. Alhamdulillah that my mother understood that I needed to speak to a professional and I did for almost a year.

It is important to note that parents (unless they are the reason for the teen’s self-destruction) are not to blame for not knowing it is happening. Often, the teen is ashamed to admit what they are doing for what it may seem like. They also want to protect their parents and not cause such heartache and hurt them.

The only solution is counseling to understand the cause and to try and find ways of coping other than harming yourself.

If you are a parent or a concerned sibling or friend, you can help by:

-Notice when they seem upset, withdrawn or irritable

-Notice if they refuse to wear short sleeves or change into sportswear

-Encourage them to talk about what’s upsetting them

-Be non-judgemental, understanding and tolerant

-Listen to and try to accept the idea of self harm as helpful

-Try not to tell them to stop – this is likely to make them panic

-Offer practical help with taking care of wounds

If you are a teen going through this, please go to someone you trust to get help. It is common and you are not alone. Help is around the corner. You just need to reach out.

You can seek help from our counselors at AboutIslam:

Ask The Counselor

Ask About Parenting

Also, There are two organizations within the UK that can help :





First published: march 2017