All young people who attend hospital following attempting suicide or harming themselves should also have a specialist mental health assessment before leaving.
It is often difficult to work out what prompted the young person to self-harm or whether they actually wished to commit suicide or not; mental health professionals have the expertise to make sense of these complicated situations.
It is usual for parents or carers to be involved in the assessment and any treatment. This makes it easier to understand the background to what has happened, and to work out together whether more help is needed.
Assessments in Emergency Departments (also known as A&E) which include a short ‘talking therapy’ session have been shown to help young people come back for ongoing help and support. A lot of young people self-harm or make another suicide attempt if they do not receive the help they need.
Usually, treatment for self-harm and attempted suicide, other than any immediate physical treatment, will involve individual or family 'talking therapy' work for a small number of sessions. They will need help with how to cope with the very difficult feelings that cause self-harm.
Clear plans on how to help and how to keep the young person safe will also be made. Some people who find it very difficult to stop self-harming behaviour in the short term will need help to think of less harmful ways of managing their distress.
Families often need help in working out how to make sure that the dangerous behaviour doesn't happen again, and how to give the support that is needed. This is something your local CAMHS should have on offer.
If depression or another serious mental health problem is part of the problem, it will need treatment. Some young people who self-harm may have suffered particularly damaging and traumatic experiences in their past. A very small number of young people who try to kill themselves really do still want to die. These two groups may need specialist help over a longer period of time.