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Just found to DD self harming and suicidal - devastating.

(39 Posts)
PhyllisDietrichson Wed 25-Jan-17 17:43:31

Learned a week ago from our GP that DD had been in touch (thank goodness) to explain that she is self harming the length of both legs and has stood on top of tall buildings contemplating ending it; only deciding not to because some people were down below or because (her bedroom window) was not high enough to do a good job. So very hard to hear.

I don't know how we got here. it's one of the worst things a parent can hear - and I'm finding it hard to come to terms with. But so glad you are here, I've been feeling very alone.

Ever since I've been on the phone and emailing: our doctor, local private hospital's, CAMHS and DD's college, trying to find anyone who can help her NOW. if she was anorexic, she'd be seen far sooner I understand but with her symptoms she has to wait a month for an initial assessment with CAMHS, OR we have the A&E option in an emergency situation (that's assuming she thinks to let us know next time she's on the 6th floor of a carpark?!?)

DD very unforthcoming with any information, reluctant to talk to us. Finds my questions boring, pointless and intrusive and has told me to back off discussing it. So frustrating. Any helpful advice much appreciated while we wait for this far off appointment.

PhyllisDietrichson Wed 25-Jan-17 17:46:03

PS also, do you ask the child for her weapons of choice to keep her safe? What on earth do you do about the self harm whilst awaiting an appointment let her get on with it?

IsMyVoodooWorking Wed 25-Jan-17 17:51:01

Oh how tough for you and your DD. I may not have much wisdom and I'm not sure how old your DD is but I was her and wasn't lucky enough to have a supportive parent like you. Who I did open up to was my older sister and what she did that helped me was not to press me. I found it hard to explain why I was feeling the way I did and it made me angry when people questioned me. She told me i didn't have to talk to her but that if I was self harming it was important to be safe- she didn't try to stop me or make me feel ashamed. It meant I didn't feel I had to hide as much and if I had taken a risk or felt I was going to do a lot of damage then I felt I could tell her and she wouldn't flip out or panic. I found her calmness to he really helpful, but it must have been so tough on her really. Its really great that she's been in touch with her GP, and school may be able to help. Hopefully CAMHS have come along since I was a teenager as I didn't find them helpful at all and they were very minimising of my self harm and suicidal feelings which is why having my sister was also so important to me. I'd suggest getting some support for yourself - YoungMinds have a parenting helpline and email

IsMyVoodooWorking Wed 25-Jan-17 17:52:23

I would actually suggest not hiding things - when my parents hide sharp stuff I ended up taking overdoses instead as a way to self harm. I'm not saying this will happen, just sharing what helped me. I imagine they were terrified out of their wits so I understand why they did it.

VanillaSugar Wed 25-Jan-17 17:54:48

Right. She's been to see the GP. That's a good start. Tell her to log into the Childline website. She'll get some great support there.

Keep calm. Tell her you're here to help her and FGS don't make this a drama about YOU (as a friend of mine is doing with her own DD).

The CAMHs appointment might come round quicker than you think. Try and opt for family therapy so that she can hear your side.

Get some savlon and help her to make sure that the wounds don't become infected. If you feel helpless, try to be practical.

My DD went through similar. I spoke to her school who said they'd frisk her each morning to make sure she wasn't carrying scissors to cut herself with. I told them to FRO. Her new school told me that they'd send her to the health centre to clean the wounds and they wouldn't be judgemental.

Keeping calm and neutral helps, believe me.

VanillaSugar Wed 25-Jan-17 17:55:11

And flowersflowersflowers for you both x

Chimchar Wed 25-Jan-17 17:57:41

I'm so sorry you're going through teen ds has recently been diagnosed with depression and it's so awful. sad

I have no advice I'm afraid, but I do know that I read some really useful info on the website below.
I'm not sure if any of this will help, but there are some really useful links and info

Have a look around the site. It's local to me, but the general info obviously stands regardless of where you are.

Thinking of you and your dd X

sashh Wed 25-Jan-17 18:01:57

Can't help with the big problem but on a much smaller scale has your dd tried ice?

I know it sounds crazy but crunching a couple of ice cubes in your hand can give you some of the same feelings as self harm but without the damage.

user1483945709 Wed 25-Jan-17 18:02:01

The a&e emergency options gets you an emergency mental health right here, right now. They don't mean wait until you are next thinking of ending it.

They mean if you have urgent concerns regarding mental Heath.

Spam88 Wed 25-Jan-17 18:02:11

It's really good that she's sought help flowers

I don't have much advice to offer, if just say make her aware that you're there if she needs you but don't force her to talk about things. As for the self harming, as horrible as it may be, you shouldn't stop her from doing it. That's her coping mechanism at the moment and if you take that away then she could end up doing something far worse.

user1483945709 Wed 25-Jan-17 18:03:05

Mental Heath assessment I meant to say

Fernanie Wed 25-Jan-17 18:08:26

So sorry you're going through this, OP. Must be really difficult to process. One thing I will say is that it's not a reflection of you or anything you've done. I had truly wonderful parents growing up and still struggled with this.
If she's not in a place where she's willing to discuss it with you then I'm afraid there's not a lot you can do to make her. Really encouraging that she's been to her GP. It was probably a bit of an unpleasant surprise for her to find out that GP had shared it with you; she might just be feeling a bit embarrassed at the moment. There's a lot of shame associated with self-harm; I know I worried about being seen as an attention-seeker, or people not understanding or thinking I was crazy. That made me really reluctant to talk to anybody.
Agree with IsMyVoodooWorking; the best thing you can do is reassure her that you love her no matter what and aren't judging her, and that your main concern is that she's safe.

user1483945709 Wed 25-Jan-17 18:10:10

You go to A&E and ask for an emergency mental health assessment. You are seen by CAMHS senior psychologists. They do an assessment, including risk assessment and safety plan.

If discharged, they then have to give you a follow up appointment at your local CAMHS within 7 days.

Scotslasslivinginfrance Wed 25-Jan-17 20:33:41

There is an app called Stay alive it's really good and informative for both those with suicidal idéations and for those who are worried about. It provides support to help keep you safe and tools to help keep you safe.

The above link is also a valuable source of information.

flowersfor you and make sure you get support for yourself

Scotslasslivinginfrance Wed 25-Jan-17 20:35:08

Just re read my really badly written post, apologies but I hope you get a sense of what I have written

Goldenhedgehogs Wed 25-Jan-17 20:42:01

Jane Smith, the parents guide to self harm. This is a UK based book, which I have used and found very helpful. It is available on Amazon and gives calm sensible suggestions that might help.

PhyllisDietrichson Wed 25-Jan-17 20:42:16

Thank you so much for responding so quickly everyone. I feel esp grateful to hear from self-harmers past and present.

We've had a bit of a breakthrough, DD (16 years old I forgot to say) has sat down with her Dad and me tonight and begun to open up a little. She's explained that when she doesn't self harm, she can't cope at all, she lies on her bed immobile for hours instead, it helps her at the moment (until, I hope, she learns to find other coping strategies), she admitted the punishment angle is a key part of it. She can't fathom quite why she does it though, and from what you guys have said that's normal; it's a part of the depression.

I thank you again. Hopefully your DCs and mine will get there sooner than later and find a reason to be who they are without the need for harmful behaviours.

PhyllisDietrichson Sun 05-Feb-17 16:14:24

Update. It's ups and downs. DDs self harm has progressed to arms as well as legs. So sad and (actually appalled) to hear she has to do it to 'stay alive' whilst we wait for CAMHS. BUT conversely, she has also had a laugh with us, come on walks, played board games, chatted about some of what's going on. There have been silent sullen days when shes come down in baggy dirty sweatshirts and greasy hair looking angry and scary. But im remaing as calm and loving as i can. Despite crying in the car after dropping her off and again wondering what on earth have i done / we done to mess this child up so much? She tells us it's not us, shes been depressed for years since a little girl and cited things like hitting herself even at primary school but having a happy childhood. It is difficult beyond measure to go through this knowing help is a month away because there just are not the facilities for anything sooner.

QueenofWhatever Sun 05-Feb-17 17:28:14

Sorry you're going through this. Young Minds have a good website and parent helpline. Self harm network is good as is TESS.

I personally would not recommend A&E unless it is a genuine emergency. It's a misconception that going to A&Egets you seen quicker by CAMHS in my experience.
They have a good section on distractions.

Allington Sun 05-Feb-17 17:42:55

Have a look at - some good peer support there.

PhyllisDietrichson Wed 08-Feb-17 08:46:51

Update 2

DD took a limited but mercifully inaffective overdose last night and then told us she'd done it. She also admitted to standing on 8th floor of a local carpark earlier in the day. We spent all night and half of today in A&E.

A psych doc from the hospital team came spent just under an hour with her at 1am, then eventually a psych nurse from CAMHS came to see her the following afternoon 13-14 hours after admission but were unable to speed things up. They talked to her again and got the same details as: her GP and the local psych unit doc has, but it still a Psychiatrist she needs to see her in order to issue meds and assess her for talking therapies or indeed to admit her into a unit. So we just have to wait. DD has been chronically / clinically depressed for almost a month now. We could have gone down the private route too but nothing was available for our DD, in fact the private unit said her case was too severe for them because she'd gone beyond suicidal ideation. The psych nurse from CAMHS said her case was not severe enough because her suicide attempt was not serious enough. So DD fallen between the gulf created by private /NHS judgments about the severity of her need.

This contrasts significantly with the treatment a close (adult) family member received when they needed urgent mental-health care earlier this year. Within 3 days of presentation at the GP, they'd already been offered anti depressants, a program intensive talking therapy treatment four days a week and could be treated either a day patient or as a residential patient -they could choose at a local BUPA insured hospital. We could have gone down that route too if we'd been allowed to - but for DCs the process is very different and painfully slow, and as I said her case was too risky for them.

There's a very small number of child appropriate psychiatrists in the local pool and there are so many young people needing desperate help. So adults are well served and children are not. Due to a recent suicide in a young persons private ward, I understand there's greater safeguarding measures in place now. Professionals are wary of the suicidal child and are busily generating oodles of red tape to cover themselves. Of course there clearly are not the same staffing, resources or facilities for young people either.

Sadly my DD's the piggy in the middle of all this. She now has a file with pages and pages of paperwork outlining her case many times by various professionals, yet she has had no real practical help so far this past month. There's a terrible gap between a suicidal child presenting themselves and the delayed response of professionals and our DCs are falling into this. DD has, in her own way, begged for assistance out of the very dark place and I could see yesterday she was defeated by the lack of response and dozens of repeated questions going nowhere. We have to somehow keep her going until this appointment in a weeks time and hope they really pull their finger out then. As a family we have to brace ourselves for her continued and desperate wish to self harm end her own life.

eveteen Sat 04-Mar-17 21:04:20

I have only just read this post and found it difficult to look at. It was all a bit too close to home . My daughter opened up to me at 14 that she was self harming and suicidal . Her story pretty much mirrors that of your daughter. And mine yours . I hid knives, searched for 'tools' - pencil sharpeners etc . But she always found a way . I tried to ensure that she felt able to come and let me know when she had cut. It was not easy to avoid showing my horror at her cuts when dressing them . Take heart though op. She is now looking forward to starting uni . She is totally aware of her fragility and is so full of strategies of how to deal with the shit life may throw her away . At 18 she has more insight into her own mental health than any other person I know . She is equipped for life . I think the same will apply for your daughter . Some kids just get the emotional trauma a bit early before they are equipped to handle it. Depression is a bastard but by the time she reaches adulthood she will have it by its balls , looking back it was horrendous and I will never stop worrying about her (who would) but she is strong and so aware . My thoughts are with you and your family . It's not an easy time but you will all get through it x

MollyHuaCha Sat 04-Mar-17 22:35:18

OP, hope your DD is on the road to recovery. One of my DCs had a year and a half of similar issues at age 13-14. Currently age 16 and it's (hopefully) all in the past now. Keep pressing for the right treatment, especially 'talking' therapies. The right therapist can work miracles. Keep smiling and stay strong x

PhyllisDietrichson Sun 05-Mar-17 16:29:10

Thanks again so much for your kind supportive words. DD now seeing CAMHS weekly and has been prescribed Fluoxetine. She seems slightly more stable but as she's so very secretive about things and unforthcoming still, it's very hard to really know. I ferry her around all the time to keep her safe but have allowed some nights out whilst trying to encourage avoidance of alcohol as this seems to make her much worse and take far greater risks, even in front of old friends. My worry now (that I've come to terms with the fact that she will be self harming still and will until she finds another coping strategy through therapy) that she is monitoring her food intake way too much. She has lost a lot of weight but I am monitoring it carefully and make tempting cakes which luckily she can't quite resist. I'm watching how much she actually consumes as unobtrusively as possible, but have let her know that a smoothy and a tiny salad all day is just not enough food for a growing teen; she makes herself quite faint at times and I've said 'you need some carbs' when she's complained of headaches and nausea, pointing out that this so called 'healthy eating' is going to make her ill. I've also stipulated that her keenest to go to festivals in a few months time is dependent ob being well and eating properly. DDs not looking too skinny yet and I am still hopeful that at the moment we're several weeks past finding out our beautiful girl is very ill, and we thank the stars she is still here fighting on and has even begun to make plans for uni visits later in the summer.

PhyllisDietrichson Mon 20-Mar-17 18:07:40

Has developed into anorexia. So we seem to have self-harming, suicidal, anorexic teen who is also now very worryingly reducing her fluid intake.

Have any of you dealt with this particularly worrying combination? Just wondering if we can expect anything else?!?

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