My daughter the self-harmer

It is estimated that more than one in five girls self-harm in the UK. One parent details the journey from the realisation that her teen was self-harming, through the maze of bureaucracy to try and get help. 

We will follow mum and daughter’s story over the next few weeks. Links to organisations that can offer help and support are listed at the bottom of this post.

Chapter One. “Mum, I cut myself”

I will never forget that day. My daughter came into the room and said, “I’ve cut myself”. “Oh,” I replied, “how did that happen?” She looked at me and paused and said again more slowly. “I cut myself”.

Normally my daughter, who is 12, looks much older than her years but at that moment in time she looked like a young child again. Her face was such a mixture of confused emotions; pleading for help, plus embarrassment and perhaps shame mixed in as well. I remember that moment so clearly. It was like when you watch films and they freeze the frame.

Reality kicked in and I went into practical mode. I remember telling her not to worry and that we could clean it up. It was a large cut on her arm. Much later I found out she’d done it with a pair of kitchen scissors. We talked about why she’d done it and she started to cry. “I don’t know” she said and became even more upset.

I tried to reassure her and told her everything was fine, and I just sat hugging her whilst she wept.

I look back at that moment in hindsight and realise I am lucky. Obviously, I wish my daughter didn’t feel the need to harm herself. But I have discovered that so many parents find out much further down the line or worse, that many children self harm without telling anyone or feeling able to ask for help. I feel lucky that my daughter could let me know what she had done.

Later that night I cried and cried. I spent the whole night worrying and asking myself questions. Why had she done it? Was this all my fault? Why did she feel the need to hurt herself rather than come and talk to me? Was this a one off? Was this an attempt to kill herself? Would she try and cut herself again that night? What was going through her mind when she was cutting herself? What had happened to her to make her want to hurt herself in that way?  Should I have contacted someone for help? Who do you contact for help? Would other people blame me?

As a parent I had always felt that I could solve my children’s problems. This was the first time that I felt helpless and didn’t know how to help her. We both needed help.

Read more from our blogger mum’s story:


Where to get help and advice