Concerns regarding 16yo behaviour since discovering she is self harming

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Active scribe

Concerns regarding 16yo behaviour since discovering she is self harming

Very new to this - 16yo daughter's school rang three weeks ago as her friend's mum had rung concerned about suicide thoughts and self-harm being discussed with her daughter. Now started the process of counsellors and appointments with Headspace. She is either refusing to communicate with me completely or talking until midnight and being friendly. So confusing to be around. I've spoken to the Headspace people a few times and they've been amazing. 


My questions relate to whether self harm can in some instances be for attention to some degree? She told me last week that she'd gone to three pool parties with more than 15 friends over January and each time there was more evidence on her body and she seemed disappointed that only three of those friends had said anything or asked how she was. I suggested that her friends might be finding it really difficult to know what to do - I know I am.


She very much regrets that her dad and I know about what she's been doing to herself and is quite sure that she and her friends could deal with it just fine on their own - such a big ask of her friends - I am worried that they will find it all too much - plus I can only imagine what their parents might be feeling (if they know).


She's also feeling quite free to get home from school whatever hour she likes, sometimes I get a text to say where she's going, sometimes not. I feel as though we have to be so nice and caring all the time so we don't upset her - and then I feel quite angry as well - I know she's not working from a solid mental basis at the moment but the mood swings and self-centred behaviour is really tough to stay calm through sometimes.


Thanks for listening - so glad I found this forum and seeing others stories.


Founding member

Re: Concerns regarding 16yo behaviour since discovering she is self harming



About your daughter's self harm, perhaps it is a control thing. My Miss 18 was doing it a couple of years back, she told me and her psychologist at the end of an appointment when I was called in for a wrap up and staggered me as well as surprising the psych. Missy is T1 diabetic for 14+ years and she said that her self harm was the only thing in her life she could control. Diabetes totally rules your life and it helped lead her into anxiety and depression, hence the psych. She enjoyed the feeling of power - will I do it today? When? Where? How many, how deep? It was, in her mind, the only thing she could decide for herself. Fortunately she's out of that dark, horrible place now and doing OK.


Perhaps your girl has a similar issue? It certainly looks like a plea for attention to me - Missy kept it all very well hidden, never dressing so that the evidence could be seen.


I think you're definitely on the right path with Headspace and counselors, we parents are way, way out of our depth and getting the pros involved is vital IMHO. My take on all things with our kids is show them unconditional love, regardless. That doesn't come easy and expect her to test whether it's real or just talk - a rough ride for a while I can attest!


Good luck and don't forget to take care of yourself too - if you're a mess emotionally I don't think you can help her much.


Re: Concerns regarding 16yo behaviour since discovering she is self harming

Hi @waldo_pepper,


It was lovely to read that your daughter is now out of her "dark" place and making progress. You have must have used unconditional love and patience to get where you are today and that is really valuable to share with the rest of us. It shows that there is hope and no matter what each of us are experiencing individually with our sons and daughters, if we just keep loving and being there for matter how hard it is for us...we can get there!


So thank you for mentioning that your daughter, with her own struggles has managed to day hopefully she will realise all the love and patience you provided, but for IS just unconditional!




Re: Concerns regarding 16yo behaviour since discovering she is self harming


Thank you for sharing your story. This forum has been so valuable for myself since I found it recently and I hope it shall be for you too.


You have been going through some really tough times with your daughters current issues but I feel positive that with the help she is getting (with the support systems you mentioned) this difficult time will pass.


Support is the main thing and your daughter is getting it, but what about yourself? A lot of us parents have neglected ourselves by all the giving we have done and get get burnt out. I agree totally with @waldo_pepper who mentions about getting some support for yourself to be able to help your daughter fully.

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Concerns regarding 16yo behaviour since discovering she is self harming

Hey @Rowanna, so happy you'd started a thread about your daughter already. I must've missed it when you first posted but glad you've received some support here. 


How has your daughter been since getting her homework done yesterday? Fingers crossed the calming effect has carried through!

Super frequent scribe

Re: Concerns regarding 16yo behaviour since discovering she is self harming

For my 15 year old niece who has self harmed twice many years apart it is for attention. She knows that when she does it that everyone will stop and focus on her and the attention is taken away from everyone else and focused on her. We are not the only ones who have said this as the mental health workers who have assessed her have said the same thing. I will say though that my niece’s reasoning for doing it is not why most people self-harm and either way I think the person needs assistance from professionals and unconditional love and no judgement from their closest loved ones. I’ve also spoken with my psychologist to work through my feelings over her attention seeking behaviours as self-harm is one of many tactics she uses. Maybe finding someone who can help you work through how you are feeling will help you?