There are many misconceptions surrounding self-harming behaviors. Though not often talked about, self-harm is more common than many people realize. Mandy Fauble, PhD, executive director of Safe Harbor Behavioral Health of UPMC Hamot, shares several signs of self-harm that parents should know.\nSafe Harbor Behavior Health of UPMC Hamot offers\u00a0health care professionals and crisis services available to address your child’s needs quickly, confidentially, and safely. Reach them by phone at\u00a0814-456-2014.\n \r\n \r\n\t Subscribe to our family health newsletter \r\n \r\n Enter your email to subscribe\r\n \r\n \r\n\t \r\n Sign Up \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n I understand that by providing my email address, I agree to receive emails from UPMC. I understand that I may opt out of receiving such communications at any time.\r\n \r\n \r\n \nWhy Do Some Young People Harm Themselves?\nAdults are often shaken and confused to learn that some young people choose to injure themselves. Parents are faced with questions like \u201cWhat are self-harming behaviors?\u201d and \u201cWhy does a child choose to self-harm?\u201d\n“Self-injury can take several forms, such as cutting, burning, eraser burns, hair pulling, and punching or hitting things,” explains Dr. Fauble. “The human body is wired to ease pain, releasing soothing hormone after an injury. Self-injury is very effective in distracting from emotional pain, and creating a more exhausted and calmer feeling (.”\nUnfortunately, experts need more research to determine the cause of self-harm.\n“Mental health concerns, lack of coping skills, and difficulty managing overwhelming emotions are all associated with non-suicidal self-injury. A childhood history of trauma and abuse is also linked to self-harm, but there can be many other contributing factors,” explains Dr. Fauble.\nSelf-Harm Warning Signs in Children and Teens\nWhile there’s a common belief that self-harming is a “girl thing” Dr. Fauble reports that it is not true. “Boys also self-injure,” she says. “However, it tends to be more aggressive, like hitting themselves or punching things until their knuckles bleed.”\nWhat self-harm warning signs should you look for? Dr. Fauble recommends parents become aware of the following indications of self-harm:\n\nUnexplained injuries\nWearing long sleeves (especially in hot weather)\nFinding razors or lighters in odd areas where self-injury may be occurring\nMaking sure areas of the body are hidden\n\nIf you notice any of these self-harm warning signs, it’s critical to remain calm and have an open conversation with your child. “If you can be calm, it is more likely your child will accept help,” advises Dr. Fauble.\n“Self-injury can be linked to attempted suicide, or accidental death, so it is important to ask young people if they are also experiencing thoughts of suicide, and to take steps if the self-injury requires medical attention or is extremely risky,” adds Dr. Fauble.\nAdditional Tips for Parents\n“Following a child;s social media and peer groups is helpful, as young people might disclose thoughts of self-harm or behavior,” advises Dr. Fauble. “Parents may also want to reach out to their child’s school for support.” Plus, parents should take steps to decrease availability and access to common self-harming implements.\n“Self-harming behavior is treatable and a mental health therapist and\/or psychiatrist who is trained can help with these issues,” says Dr. Fauble.\nWith the right help and support, your child can learn to overcome self-harming behaviors.\nSafe Harbor Behavior Health of UPMC Hamot (814-456-2014) has health care professionals and crisis services available to address your child’s needs quickly, confidentially, and safely.\nTo learn more about self-harm and mental-health services for children, call UPMC’s Safe Harbor Behavioral Health at 814-456-2014 and speak with a caring mental health expert today.