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Daughter self harmed, could she be copying her friends behaviours?

Community Member

Hi my 11 year has had a difficult year so far, she is in year 6, most of her friends are 12 to13 in class due to the cut off in age in May. they all start year 7 next year and moving schools.
I am divorced but her father and I get on reasonaby well, my mum lives with my daughter and I. I don't have any orther chidren or a partner.
My ex- is a good father when he is sober, he has struggled with addiction and mental health his whole life, but to his credit he is always trying to get better. Until this year my daughter was not really aware of his illnesses, but as you would know the older they get its harder to hide. We both had very age appropiate conversations about his struggles after my ex-had a lapse this year and crashed the car with her, luckily nothing happened. My ex is getting help and doing well managing his recovery.
I work in mental health and addiction too, but of course when dealing with this issues in your own home is always hard.
Last year and this year my daughter got closer to a new group of friends, one of them had a gender change (from girl to boy) and struggles with a lot of family issues, self harming significantly and also childhood trauma, sexual abuse.
My daughter shared this with me and I became very concerned as she seemed to feel the need to help her friend who she said cared for very much. I asked her to always tell me if she became concerned about her friend and to also be careful and not get to involved, I explained that children her age should not have to deal with such heavy topics and that her friend was getting help from Social work services and her parents.
Over the past 4 months she seemed to get even closer and borderline obsessed with helping and being friends with this child, I made attempts to talk to her as I was noticing she was becoming withdrawn, sad and anxious, I let her know I was here and explained that she needed to put some emotional distance from her friend as I could see it affecting her. I found notes in her room of dreams she was having about this child self harming and being suicidal.
This week another friend at school had been doing some self harmed with razers and this was very ditressing to her and her other friend. I called the school and my daughter also spoke to the school counsellor. Yesterday I found she had also tried to cut herself on her hand and wrist.I told her teacher so he is aware and I've made an appt with a Psychologist, but appt is a few weeks away.

Need some advice please

2 Replies 2

Hi ANGIEAdelaide,

Welcome to the forum, it is so great to have you join us here. We can understand that the knowing of your daughter self-harming must be very horrifying for you. As a parent it can be very hard to witness children gravitate to other children who we see are doing harmful things to themselves and others. We can image the fear that you and your ex must be having while your daughter is on this journey, particularly as she is so young. You have called the school and have organised to see a psychologist, so it's great that you have put some things in place. In the meantime, there are other services you can call for advice and your daughter can call to discuss what is happening for her. 

If you feel it may be helpful, you are always welcome to get in touch with Kids Helpline. They are a confidential and anonymous, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged 25 and under.  

We would also recommend getting in touch with an organisation called Headspace. Headspace is an organisation specifically for young people aged 12-25 and they offer a wide range of services including group programs which are a great opportunity to meet people. They also have a group chat on their webpage. 

If you would like some help finding mental health support, we would recommend that you get in contact with the Beyond Blue Support Service. They are available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or on Webchat 1pm-12am AEST on our website: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport  One of our friendly counsellors will be able to talk through these feelings with you and can offer support, advice and referrals. 

You are not alone and the community is here to help you. Please continue to visit us here and gain support. 


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi ANGIEAdelaide

Welcome to the forum and I am so sorry that you are going through this with your daughter, and her friends too. I am a mum and I can imagine the worry and the stress that this is causing for you and your family in how to help your daughter.

I would also like to say how wonderfully you are doing with communicating with your daughter and being able to talk to her about what is going on with her friends and how to support them and also what is going on for her. I am sure that your daughter is going through all sorts of emotions and especially if her friend is expressing to her that they are self harming or having thoughts of suicide. I can see Sophie_M has given you some numbers and I would like to echo the support of the Kids Helpline, they are so wonderful and would be able to provide some wonderful support, to both you are your daughter through this. The Kids Helpline number is 1800 55 1800 but they also have a service that is web based should your daughter feel more comfortable in typing rather than talking:


I understand where you are coming from in wondering if your daughter has taken to harming herself "because her friends are", however with this type of behavior all seriousness should be given to it. She may very well just be curious and wonder what it is about and how it feels, she also may not and I am so pleased you have the support of the school and also an appointment with a professional.

As you seem to have such a great line of communication with her do you feel like you could talk to her about her harming herself and ask her softly about how she was feeling when this happened? Even just listening to her express her feelings without the need to "fix" it might really help her too.

It also seems she is feeling alot of pressure to "fix" her friends and I think by her getting some support she can manage how to navigate the conversations with her friends as well as know when it is ok to step back and that it is not her role to "fix", but to just listen and to love and support, I am sure you have said that to her already.

I am so pleased you have reached out today and have come to chat and to get some support for yourself, that is so important too. We are here for you.

Huge hugs to you

Sarah xx