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Posted at: Sep 10, 2017, 1:24 AM; last updated: Sep 10, 2017, 1:24 AM (IST)

Fear factors

Dr Harsheen Arora

According to World Health Organisation, one in four children in the age group of 13-15 years suffers from depression in India.

Reasons that lure young people to self-harm

  • Peer pressure or being bullied
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Problems at home
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty adjusting socially
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Facing difficulty in life changes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dissociation
  • Experiencing a psychological disorder: Eating disorder, depression, borderline personality disorder
Reasons behind depression 

  • Hormonal changes
  • Heredity
  • Peer pressure or being bullied
  • Broken family
  • Pressure of studies
  • Neglect
  • Feeling of hopelessness & helplessness
  • Some tragic life events (like accident, loss of loved one et al)
  • Loneliness
Why Teens self-harm

  • To relieve emotional tension or  cope with their emotions
  • Cry for help
  • As a form of self-punishment (believing that they deserve it)
Self-harm or self-harm games are used to feel better. It is akin to why some people abuse alcohol or drugs, or sexual behaviour.

Tips for parents/family

Symptoms like low self-esteem, disconnecting with friends, wanting to be alone, withdrawal from family members, reluctance to leave their electronic gadgets unattended, avoiding school or work, changes in personality (anger, sadness, crying), drastic change in appearance or weight, fresh marks on the skin or wearing clothes that hide these marks even in summers, are a few signs that may help a parent, caregiver, friend, or family to identify a need for help.

In such cases, it becomes important to make the person feel that help is available without judgement. Encourage them to express their feelings either through spoken words, a letter or a journal. It helps in releasing the suppressed emotions. Reassuring them that they are brave and have done nothing wrong, to dispel their belief that they deserve the pain by showing them compassion and support, will help the person step away from harm. Also, spreading awareness about how to report abuse online, taking screen shots or saving IP addresses as proof will let them know that help is available.

How to resist pressure

Kids usually give in to peer pressure as they are afraid of rejection or being mocked at. Also, they might not want to hurt their friends’ feelings. In most situations they are not even sure of what they want or don’t understand how to get out of the situation.

At such times they should:

  • Ask questions from their friends or the group about the activity that they are being pressurised into.
  • Stand tall and make eye contact while expressing how they feel about the situation without making excuses and say ‘No’. 
  • Suggest alternatives to friends or walk away from the situation.
  • Follow their instinct.
  • Setup code language with their parents in order to let them know that they are in a sticky situation and need rescuing.
  • Put the blame on parents in order to get away from the risky situation.
— The writer is a Delhi-based psychologist 

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