How can I help my child?

Finding out a child is struggling to cope can be a frightening and distressing discovery for parents.

Talking to your child in an accepting and open way is an important first step in overcoming the situation.

  • Listen carefully to what they say

Ask them how they feel. If you're gentle and calm it's ok to bring up the subject of self-harm or suicide.

  • Try to be accepting and open-minded

Let your child know you are there for them, and that they are loved. Reassure them that it's ok to talk about their distress and that they have your support.

  • Offer to lend them a hand

You could offer to contact Samaritans, a GP or a counsellor. Avoid trying to take control though - many people who self-harm use it as a way of having some control over their lives.

  • Don't take it personally

Your son or daughter might not want to talk to you because you are too close to them. If this is the case you may want to encourage them to talk to someone they feel comfortable with.

  • Don't give them ultimatums

They don't work, and may drive behaviour underground. If someone needs to self-harm, they will find a way to do it somehow or other.

  • Try to understand your own feelings

You might feel hurt, devastated, shocked, angry, sad, guilty or powerless. If you're struggling yourself, you might want to call us or see a counsellor.

Jazmine Franks, who plays Esther in Hollyoaks at the centre of a bullying campaign, provides advice on Samaritans and other sources of support for those with any problems and issues causing them distress.

Find out more

There are lots of books and websites offering support and information on emotional health. We've listed a few below:

Samaritans - we're here to help 24 hours a day, in confidence and without judging. Contact us

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) - can give you information about counsellors in your area. You may want to ask your GP about being referred to a counsellor.

ChildLine - provides support services for children and young people. You can call the free, 24-hour helpline about any problem, at any time.

National Self Harm Network - supports friends, families and carers of people who self-harm.


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