They tried to hide it but the long thin razor marks were hard to hide in the summer. I instantly googled “Why do teenagers cut themselves?” Which told me the most common reason why according to psychology. It was kind of helpful. But how do I help my kid who is considering suicide purposely hurting themself?
I felt embarrassed and like a failure as a mom. It scared me. This wasn’t about how I felt and I couldn’t ignore it what I saw on my daughters wrists. I was warned in my google search if I did ignore it, suicide, addiction and long list of other potential problems would result. My child was screaming out for help through the silent razor marks on their skin. I heard them loud and clear.
I didn’t know what to do. But I felt like we could figure it out. First I talked with my child. Fortunately, we had a good relationship so we were able to have an open, loving conversation. Divorce was affecting all of us. The feeling of not being heard and understood was the deep feeling being expressed. Not being validated or understood, was the reason for cutting. Our conversation was tender and safe. It allowed my child to share feelings. I listened and validated what they were feeling. I let my child know, I was part of the problem. I also let them know, I didn’t know how to help but we would ask for help. My plan was to reach out to counselors and friends to ask for recommendations. We, together, would get help.
I did reach out to friends for recommendations, counselors and therapists. I asked who they would recommend. They gave me names. One name, came up a few times and highly recommended. That was my next call. I scheduled an appointment.
This counselor was awesome. Her name is Angela. She helped my child and later helped my other children. Angela taught us that if one member of the family is struggling with cutting or suicide, it is a family problem. The family dynamics and culture need to shift to support everyone’s mental health. Not only did my children learn skills of communication and personal lessons, but the culture of our home changed to support that. We were all growing and learning to be happier. We more easily addressed concerns and challenges through listening and better communication.
That was a while ago. And it took a while, years to work through this. Today both of my children are doing well. If fact all of my children are doing better. When challenges arise, they are better equipped to work through them. They feel heard and validated. I had to change to help my kids and create the environment to support a healthy mind. My advice, don’t ignore when a child is silently screaming out for help. Hear it, don’t fear it. Get them help. Love them through this. It will get better. I promise.