Excerpt from the book “Need to Know: Teenage Suicide” by Claire Wallerstein

Parasuicide is when people make a suicide attempt, but do not actually want to kill themselves. It is sometimes called deliberate self-harm. Usually, they take an overdose and then call a friend or the emergency services. Or they may carry out the act in a place where they hope to be found and helped. Sadly, this does not always happen. Help may not arrive until it is too late.

Parasuicide is not the same as when people deliberately harm themselves in less serious ways. For example, some people may cut themselves when they feel very stressed or upset. This is not life-threatening, and they do it because the pain somehow helps them.

Parasuicide is usually a cry for help from people, usually girls, who have trouble coping with their problems. They suffer from the same kind of difficulties as those who actually do commit suicide. They may feel it is the only way to make the people around them understand how bad, or how angry they are feeling. Some teenagers commit parasuicide because they want to frighten someone who has upset them and “make them sorry”. This is very dangerous because some parasuicides end in death.

Parasuicide also shows how confused many suicidal young people are. They may want to take drastic action or even kill themselves, but often change their minds quite quickly. Few people are 100 per cent certain that they want to die. Even when they feel at their worst, there is nearly always a part of them that clings to life.

People who commit parasuicide may be told they are attention-seekers or time-wasters. Their families may be very angry and upset, making the person feel even more miserable and guilty. However, people who have committed parasuicide should be taken seriously. They are likely to try it again, and are up to twenty times more likely than the general population to finally take their own lives.


One thought on “Parasuicide

  1. BlueJ 25 January 2011 / 2:12 pm

    I couldn’t help but cry when I saw the date that Barry Henderson died. My three and half year old brother, Joshua, died from a traumatic accident on May 18, 2005 from a 32 caliber gun shot wound to the forehead. I was only thirteen at the time and still don’t quite understand why, what, even the how just doesn’t make sense. It is not something isolated to a few groups of people. This kind of grief and sorrow happens alot. You’ve probably heard the cheesy phrase that, “Time heals all wounds.” Well, I think the person who coined that phrase must have been a well meaning individual just trying to be a consoling friend, because it is not true. Time does not heal all wounds. Times simply gives us the days to find new ways to deal with the pain so that is not so fresh, so new, so numbing, so painful, so terribly awful, and slowly after the days, weeks, months, years go by we find that we remember the precious golden memories and cling to them ever so tightly, and still try to forget the painfilled horrors of the infamous day etched upon the autobiographical scene of our mind, our hearts, and our lives. Life will never be the same. “Yesterday is history. It is miles away. So we leave it all behind us. Let is always remind us of the day love made history.” How can one ever forget their loved one and the time they spent together?
    “We grieve and hurt deeply, because we love deeply.” People express sorrow and grief differently, but we still express it in some way or another. It is part of who we are as human beings.

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