It is human nature to desire attention. Attention is validating. It is a way of letting us know that we matter to someone. Children in particular need attention. When they do not receive it, they may act inappropriately to receive it. The same is true with teenagers. If they do not receive an appropriate amount of attention, they too may misbehave.
“Acting out” might be your way of ensuring that someone pays attention to you. Harming yourself is physical evidence that your desire for attention is real. Self-injury ensures that those around you will see your pain. Thus self-harm may be a form of “guaranteed attention” but it is a misguided approach to meeting your needs.
My main concern about your behavior is self-injury. Self-injury is, by definition, self-destructive. An additional concern is your contemplation of ending your life. Thankfully you have decided otherwise but that might not always be the case. Your behavior may progress to the point where you lose control, especially if you are intoxicated. These are serious issues that you should take seriously, since they involve your physical self and being.
You stated that you are ashamed of your behavior. Shame might hinder you from receiving the appropriate mental health treatment. Many people have struggled with the same problems. Your depression, anxiety and self-harm need to be treated. You should see a mental health professional (you can find one through our therapist directory if needed). Even though I realize it may not be easy, I think it’s important that you find a way to speak to your parents, report these problems, and request that they assist you in finding the appropriate mental health care. Please take care.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on January 13, 2013.