On the recent episode of web series “Red Table Talk,” the revelation made by American singer and actress Willow Smith shocked her mother Jada Pinkett-Smith and grandmother Adrienne Banfield-Jones to the core. She confessed to cutting herself in her preteens, and resorting to self-harm after the success of her first single “Whip My Hair” in 2010 which took a toll on her mental health.
“It was after that whole ‘Whip My Hair’ thing and I had just stopped doing singing lessons and I was kind of just in this gray area…It was just so crazy and I was plunged into this black hole, and I was cutting myself,” confessed the 17-year-old, explaining her reason for ditching the spotlight despite becoming a sensation at the age of nine.
She opened about her mental health struggle when Pinkett-Smith asked about her biggest loss. Although she chuckled while replying “my sanity,” she went ahead and disclosed the pressure she felt due to the fame and stardom she had achieved at such a tender age. She rose to fame after her debut single “Whip My Hair” climbed up the Billboard Hot 100 from number 78 to number 11 within a week of its release.
Calling the experience an “absolutely, excruciatingly terrible” ordeal, she admitted to retreating into herself than sharing her thoughts with her family. Fortunately, Willow had confided in a friend who helped her realize her “psychotic” condition and supported her. Smith was among the few fortunate ones, otherwise there are many like her who succumb to their mental illness, contemplate suicide and at times, even manage to take their own lives.
While the confrontation highlighted the power of the prevailing mental health stigma that prevented a preteen from seeking help, the fact that Pinkett-Smith had not seen the signs of self-harm on her daughter indicates how easy it is for people to hide their predicament.
Self-harming tendencies in teens
As the name suggests, self-harm is the willful act of harming oneself by cutting or burning the body. However, it is different from contemplating suicide. Unlike suicide, which is attempted with an effort to ends one’s life, self-harm is a way to cope with emotional distress, internal angst and pain.
According to experts, the onset of self-harming tendencies is usually observed at the age of 14 years. However, in recent years, there has been an increase in cases of younger kids exhibiting signs of the condition. More so, the prevalence is higher among girls compared to boys. According to a study published in the JAMA Network, from 2009 to 2015, the rate of self-inflicted injuries in girls aged 10 to 14 increased by 19 percent annually in the United States. The alarming rise in such cases also hints at the presence of mental disorders like depression, anxiety and stress.
While there could be multiple reasons triggering mental disorders among teen girls, experts believe that factors, such as the rampant use of smartphones, high academic expectations and cut-throat competition, are among the few significant contributors.
Seeking help for mental health
The tendency to self-harm is one of the strongest precursors of suicide. Unfortunately, symptoms of self-harm often go unnoticed due to lack of knowledge. While the signs could be as simple as frequent fluctuations in mood and withdrawal from the surroundings; abusing drugs or alcohol could also be a warning signal. Amidst, seeking immediate medical help may help in accurately diagnosing the condition triggering the self-harm tendencies.
If you suspect your teen to be living under some pressure or stress, contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline for assistance. Our representatives can help you connect with the finest 24/7 mental health treatment centers that offer holistic treatments for various mental disorders. Call our 24/7 helpline number (855) 653-8178 or chat online with our expert to know more about 24/7 mental health treatment programs available near you.