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What Are the Types of Self-Harm Commonly Seen in Teens?

a teen enters therapy for self harm behaviors

Note for readers: This page discusses the topic of self-harm. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7 at 988. Or, if you are concerned about an emergency situation, dial 911.

Self-harm is a serious issue that many teens struggle with. It is not attention-seeking behavior or a phase that will pass. It is a real and dangerous way some individuals use to cope with and express intense emotions. There are many types of self-harm that teens might engage in, and they are all dangerous.

Family First offers a teen self-harm treatment program at our South Florida center. Our safe, compassionate campus is exclusively for teen boys aged 13-18. Here, clients can get the help they need while our staff helps parents and family members build a healthier home environment. Get your son the help he needs by calling 888.904.5947.

Causes of Self-Harm in Teens

There is no one specific cause of self-harm in teens. Each individual’s experiences and circumstances are unique, and there is not a single factor that can be pinpointed as the sole reason for engaging in self-harm. However, there are some common underlying issues that may contribute to this behavior, such as:

  • Low self-esteem or negative body image
  • Unresolved trauma or past abuse
  • Difficulty expressing emotions and coping with strong feelings
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or borderline personality disorder
  • Pressure to fit in or conform to societal expectations
  • Lack of healthy coping mechanisms and support systems

Teens struggling with thoughts of suicide and self-harming behaviors. That is why it is crucial for parents and loved ones to be aware of warning signs and seek help if they suspect a teen may be engaging in self-harm.

Common Forms of Self-Harm in Teenagers

There are several types of self-harm, each of which has distinct signs you can notice so you can get your teen the help they need.


Cutting is the most common form of self-harm and involves using a sharp object, such as a razor blade or knife, to make cuts or scratches on the skin.

Signs of cutting include:

  • Unexplained wounds or scars on the arms, legs, or other parts of the body
  • Constantly wearing long sleeves or pants to cover up cuts and bruises
  • Finding sharp objects, such as razors or needles, hidden in their room or belongings

Cuts may not be deep enough to require medical attention, but they can leave scars and increase the risk of infection.


Burning is another form of self-harm where individuals use heat sources like matches, cigarettes, or lighters to cause harm to their skin. This can result in severe burns and the risk of long-term scarring.

Signs of burning include:

  • Unexplained blisters or burn marks on the skin
  • Discoloration or scarring on specific areas of the body

Burning can be especially dangerous as it can lead to permanent physical damage and infection.


Some individuals may engage in self-harm by intentionally hitting or punching themselves. This can result in bruising on various parts of the body, such as arms, legs, chest, or face.

Signs of bruising include:

  • Unexplained bruises that appear regularly
  • Avoiding physical contact or wearing long sleeves to hide bruises

Bruising can be just as dangerous as cutting or burning and should not be taken lightly. It can also lead to serious physical injuries.

Other types of self-harm can stem from seemingly harmless actions, such as scratching or pulling out hair. However, these behaviors can also have serious consequences and may be signs of deeper underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Call Family First for Help Now

If your teen is struggling with self-harm, do not hesitate to seek help. Our experienced and compassionate staff at Family First is here to support both teens and their families in overcoming these dangerous behaviors. Call our admissions team today at 888.904.5947 or contact us online to start the enrollment process.