If someone is desperate enough to hurt themselves, to attempt suicide, to restrict food, to purge, to do drugs, to drink excessively etc. just to get someone to pay attention to them, then this is a fairly good sign that they really do need more attention than they’re getting or that something bad is happening in their life that they need help with. […] When we blow off people’s negative actions by saying “she just wants attention”, we seem to be saying that the problems are not real if they were motivated by the desire for attention. We are telling individuals that those desires for attention invalidate all of the very real struggles that they might be going through. We tell them that their problems are fake, made up, or not worth our time and energy. It gives us an excuse not to do anything and it invalidates all of their feelings.
–Skepchick is paying attention.