Self-injury & Harming Others
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Q:  Self-injury & Harming Others

My boyfriends daughter has been diagnosed with bipolar. She has spent time in a Psychiatric facility for sucidle thoughts and cutting herself. She recently took a small knife from the kitchen and promised she didn't have it. I also have a daughter the same age ( 15). I am wondering if I should be concerned about her trying to hurt anyone else other than herself.  Does bipolor patients that injure their selfs, ever try to hurt others?

Dear Jackie -- 
In my experience, self-injury is a completely different problem than any tendency to hurt others, or even suicidal thinking.  Though cutting and suicidal behavior can occur together, they are still separate phenomena; people who have problems with cutting are clearly more likely to think about suicide also -- but not to think about hurting other people, at least as I've seen in practice.  I'm not aware of any line of statistical research ("epidemiology") that would help answer the question as to whether cutting and harming others are statistically associated. 

Here's an excellent website about self-harm that may be of interest in your household. 

Dr. Phelps

Published September, 2004


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