Dr. Walsh has written extensively and presented internationally on the topic of self-injurious behavior. Here he answers questions on the topic of self injury.
Christy Matta: The legal and mental health systems are challenged by a lack of clarity about suicidal behavior. Self- injury is often something other than a suicide attempt, but the difference isn't one parents should try to diagnose on their own at home.
Mom Psych on cutting behaviors: Researchers who study cutting behaviors find that teens who cut are attempting to self-soothe, not to hurt themselves. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the behavior is likely an attempt to gain "relief" from emotional pain. It is not necessarily the "bid for attention" that parents often assume, although parents should pay attention and seek help for their children when they see this behavior. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, is one of the most effective interventions for teens who cut.