A Brief Look into Self-Harm

One in four young women and one in ten young men in high school in the US self-harm. Those that are ignorant to the phenomenon wrongly believe this is just attention-seeking behavior, but research has shown it goes far beyond simply looking for attention.

The reality is that those who self-harm are doing so because they need a release from emotional pain. Unfortunately, this is not always recognized by the people around them.

Familiarize yourself with self-harm facts, so you’re not only more informed, but more ready to support someone who does engage in self-harming behaviors.

Self-Harm Isn’t About Attention

Self-harm behavior isn’t about seeking attention or looking for sympathy. The best way to explain it might be to compare it to bloodletting, but for emotional “bad blood” rather than physical bad blood.

An individual causes physical self-harm to release the emotional pain they are feeling. Someone who self-harms will often describe a feeling of euphoria or relief after the act. They will also describe a feeling of compulsion to self-harm during times of emotional stress or uncertainty.

It’s Not a Suicide Attempt

Self-harm isn’t about being actively suicidal. In fact, the majority of times someone who self-harms doesn’t want to die, they simply want to feel relief from the pain or stress that is consuming them.

There are many forms that self-abuse or harm takes. Some examples include:

  • Cutting
  • Burning or scalding one’s own skin
  • Repeatedly banging one’s head or hitting oneself
  • Punching walls or other hard objects
  • Impaling oneself with sharp items
  • Reopening wounds so they don’t heal or start bleeding again
  • Ingesting poison or substances known to cause illness or vomiting

Any action that causes harm or injury to oneself, either internally or externally, can be considered self-harm. It may also be an action that prevents an individual from being healthy.

Purposely restricting liquids when you know you’re dehydrated, pushing yourself further physically than your body should be, or denying yourself medical attention when needed are all less obvious, but still forms of self-harm.

There is Help Available

Individuals who participate in self-harming behaviors can find other ways to cope with stress and emotional pain. Therapies such as CBT and DBT are known to help, while others find themselves in treatment for other mental health issues and find relief through the therapy they are getting for that.

As coping skills and positive life skills are learned and developed, an individual can feel less of a compulsion to harm themselves. As the impulse lessens, they eventually will stop self-harming, and use more constructive and positive ways of dealing with the stress and emotional pain in their life.

No matter what, the important step is that those who self-harm get the help they need to learn how to cope with emotional pain in a different way.

Self-Harm Facts Develop More Supportive Environments

Knowing these facts will allow you to be more supportive of loved ones who engage in self-harming behavior. You can be an ally, and provide the support network they need, by being informed and understanding.

For professional support and therapy options please connect with us today.