Self-mutilation increasingly prevalent among Singapore youth, studies show

Self-mutilation increasingly prevalent among Singapore youth, studies show

More teenagers are turning to self-mutilation and self-harm as a way to cope with emotional stress and frustration. Here's how parents can actively help to prevent stress from physically destroying their loved ones.

Statistics shows that more teens are cutting themselves on multiple parts of their bodies in an attempt to escape the tension of school, family expectations and peer pressure.

According to Singapore Children's Society, the trend of self-harming in Singapore is also becoming apparent amongst younger children – particularly boys. Last year, 36 per cent of those who injured themselves were boys, up from 28 per cent in 2005.

Dr Carol Balhetche stated that boys who are subjected to emotional stress are rarely channelling their anger physically (like in the past) and are in need of proper attention as they are less likely to be open in sharing their problems.

Meanwhile, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) has seen more people calling its hotline and e-mailing about self-harm behaviour.

If you find your child looking apathetic, unmotivated and behaving differently, here are some ways you can approach them regarding stress.

  • Be aware of their emotional needs. As a parent, many of us have the "sixth sense" of knowing when something is wrong. If you feel uneasy about your child's well being, maybe it's time to take some action.
  • Be constantly present in their lives. Knowing what goes on at school and who their friends are can prevent any form of stress from snowballing further as they are more open to communicate with you. Do remember not to appear judgemental or highlight negativity as it may only push away your child further away from you.
  • Conduct family home evenings/outings. Weekly family outings and home evening activities can be conducted to foster positivity in children's lives. Activities and games to be played together at home can build a stronger family unit and ensure the emotional stability every child needs.
  • Be a friend first, parent second. This is especially important for teenage children. The only way your teen is going to let you in, is if you are seen as their reliable friend. Teenagers are often pressured to hide their problems from their parents out of fear – which will only make the recovery process worse. When they open up their problems to you, this is where parenting comes in and you can advice them accordingly.


If you find any of these tips helpful or if your children are experiencing immense stress, write a comment below to share your thoughts with us!

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Written by

Mizah Salik

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