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A teenage girl is having depression, feeling suicidal, and is engaging in self harm behavior. She is asking for ways to stop harming herself.
Dear Doctor Life Advice,
I am a 14 year old girl. I have depression, and anxiety. I harm myself and feel suicidal. I would like to know some good ways to stop harming myself. I have tried snapping a rubber band on my wrist, but it does not help.
Singed: Help Me Stop
Dear Help Me Stop,
Your question is extremely concerning to me. The very short, but important answer to your question is that you need help immediately. Depression can be extremely dangerous, especially among teenagers. In your case, it is even more dangerous because you state you are engaging in self harm and feeling suicidal. Please remember that depression and anxiety are both easily treated with a proper combination of medication and therapy. Self harm behavior is very dangerous and very serious. Whether or not you are suicidal, you may accidentally kill yourself or do some permanent damage by engaging in behavior that is physically harmful to you. I have seen cases in which young boys and girls ended up bleeding to death when they only meant to cut. I have also seen people with severe scars on their bodies and faces from accidentally setting themselves on fire while trying to self-inflict a burn. Please take this seriously and act on it quickly.
The fact that you are writing to me states that you may feel you don’t have anyone to turn to. I don’t know your living situation, but if you are 14 years old, then I know you must be in school. Here are some suggestions I have for you:
Speak to Your Parents, Guardians, or Another Adult you Trust
I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of talking to someone. Some young people your age feel that they cannot talk to their parents. This may or may not be your case. If you feel that your parents/guardians can be understanding, then you must tell them how you feel. They need to know their child is suffering. They also need to find you help. Parents are a good place to begin, but are not enough. You are already suicidal and are actively harming yourself. You need to get help from a professional, and your parents or guardians are the ones that should be involved in finding you proper professional help. I highly recommend that you see both a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and a therapist.
If you think that your parents will not listen to you, will not take you seriously, or will even punish you for harming yourself, then you need to find another adult to talk to. Do you have an uncle, aunt, or a family friend that you trust? If not, think about your friends’ parents and decide if you can talk to any of them. I can tell you feel lonely and isolated. Chances are, there are more people that you can reach out to than you believe.
Talk to the School Counselor or a Trusted Teacher
Some people in your age group really don’t have an adult to turn to in their family. In this case, talk to your school counselor or your favorite teacher. A school counselor can also be helpful if you want to talk to your parents, but just don’t know how. The counselor can be there when you talk to your parents. The disadvantage of talking to a school counselor is that he or she will probably break your confidentiality if you are at risk of harming yourself. What I mean by this is that the school counselor may talk to your parents whether or not you want him or her to do so. Same is true for any of your teachers.
Reach out to a Crisis Hotline
This is the absolute last resort if you are convinced that there is no one in your life that can help you. I recommend that even if you don’t trust the adults in your life, first try talking to them anyway. They may surprise you with how much they care. If all else fails, however, you should know that every state has a Suicide and Crisis hotline. You wrote to me, so I know you are internet savvy. Find the number for the hotline in your area and have it with you at all times. When you feel the urge to harm yourself, call the line. They will talk to you, and will most likely be able to talk you out of harming yourself. They may also be able to help you find treatment for your depression and anxiety.
You are suffering from a dangerous condition and you need help. You are only fourteen years old and cannot take this on by yourself. Talk to an adult. The sooner you get help, the better. You are very young and the course that your life will take depends on how much help you get now. Make a decision to get better, take charge, and get the help you need.
I am sincerely concerned about you. Write back and let us all know how you are doing.
Doctor Life Advice