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Self-Harming Behavior: Nine Warning Signs

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT

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If you suspect your teenager is engaging in self-harm, keep an eye out for the following warning signs:

  1. Wearing long sleeves or pants during summer
  2. Cuts, scratches, bruises, carvings, or burns anywhere on their body
  3. Spending time with friends or acquaintances who harm themselves
  4. Missing patches of hair, including eyelashes or eyebrows
  5. Sharp objects hidden in the bedroom, backpack, clothes, or car
  6. Isolating in the bedroom with the door locked, especially after a stressful event
  7. Wounds or scars are noticed by a teacher, coach, or family doctor
  8. A close friend or family member reports seeing your teen engage in self-harm
  9. Finding sharp objects in your teen’s room with blood on them

Parents should be aware that self-harming behavior can be a sign of significant emotional pain.  Some of these teens may have suicidal ideation as well. It’s important to seek help if you are seeing signs of self-harm in your teen.

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