Self-harm affects over 2 million individuals every year, in the United States alone. Yet, because of the stigma surrounding self-harm, it is often considered taboo to talk about. It is, perhaps, because of this lack of discussion, that there remains huge misinformation regarding self-harm. HPA/LiveWell, in Albany, New York strives to be an active participant during self-harm awareness month and beyond, in changing the misconceptions through education.
For more information on self-harm statistics, click on this link.
What is Self-harm?
The term self-harm refers to any intentional self- inflicted behavior that causes injury to that person. Self-harm also has the potential to afflict anyone, as it crosses all age, gender, race, and religious boundaries.
There are many different self-harm methods people use, including cutting, burning, pulling hair, scratching, etc. These self-injury behaviors are often used as a means to cope with overwhelming emotions stemming from depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.
For many, self-harm creates a calming affect or gives an individual a sense of control when they may be feeling out of control. Essentially, self-harm is an attempt at instant release from emotional pain.
Warning Signs of Self-harm
Whether you think someone close to you might be self-harming, or you simply want to learn more, knowing the warning signs of self-harm is important. Warning signs of someone who might be self-harming include:
- Frequent and unexplained injuries, such as cuts or burns
- Increased isolation or avoiding social settings
- Poor functioning in daily activities, including work or school
- Difficulty managing emotions, or dealing with depression or anxiety
Although knowing the warning signs is significant, it is important to understand that individuals who self-harm are often secretive. People struggling frequently go to significant lengths to conceal any physical signs of the self-harm. This means, they may wear clothing that provides coverage, such as long pants and long sleeved shirts. Alternatively, they may choose to self-harm in areas of the body that are not readily visible, such as the inner thigh or stomach areas.
For more information on self-harm warning signs, click this link.
How Can You Help?
The importance of self-harm awareness month is to fight the stigma through increasing awareness. By providing education on self-harm, fear and judgment will begin to diminish, allowing compassion and understanding to grow.
If you currently struggle with self-harm, or have in the past, you have the opportunity to make a significant difference. Sharing your self-harm stories is a great way to contribute towards the push for awareness and education.
Yet if you have no personal experience with self-harm, but know someone who is currently struggling, there are still things you can do.
- Do encourage the person to speak up about his or her self-harm.
- Do take the person’s self-harm seriously. It is NOT about attention seeking.
- Do be someone who is a non-judgmental and compassionate listener.
- Do encourage the person to seek treatment.
Self-harming behavior is extremely harmful, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Education is vital in the the push towards awareness, improved treatment options, and ultimately eradication.
If you or someone you know is thinking about seeking treatment for the first time, read this article to find out more about what to expect.
To find out more about treatment options, contact HPA/LiveWell today.