What is self harm?
Self-harm or self injury refers to people deliberately hurting their bodies and is often done in secret without anyone else knowing. Some young people do it once, while others do it to cope with particularly stressful events or as a way of coping over time. When they feel pressured or distressed they self-harm; it becomes their habit for dealing with difficult emotions.
The most common type of self-harm among young people is cutting, but there are many other types of self-harm including burning or punching the body, or picking skin or sores. People who deliberately injure themselves are not trying to kill themselves, they are trying to find a way to cope with difficulties and distress.
Why do people Self Harm themselves?
Many young people describe self-harm as a way of coping with feeling numb, or intense pain, distress or unbearable negative feelings, thoughts or memories. They are trying to change how they feel by replacing their emotional pain or pressure with physical pain. Some people harm themselves because they feel alone, and hurting themselves is the only way they feel real or connected. Others self-harm to punish themselves due to feelings of guilt or shame or to ‘feel again’.
For most young people self-harm is a coping mechanism, not a suicide attempt. However, people who repeatedly self-harm may also begin to feel as though they cannot stop, and this may lead to feeling trapped, hopeless and suicidal. People who self-harm are also more likely than the general population to feel suicidal and to attempt suicide.
Self-harm can be something that someone tries once, or it can become a habit as they search for relief from distress. The problem is that this relief is only temporary, and the circumstances usually remain. Some common areas which may lead to self harm is:
1) Difficulties or disputes with parents
2) School or work problems
5) Relationship problems
6) Low self esteem
8) Drug or Alcohol Abuse
9) Distress and Intense emotions
How to Combat or help people who self harm ?
1) Confide in someone
If you’re ready to get help for cutting or self-harm, the first step is to confide in another person. It can be scary to talk about the very thing you have worked so hard to hide, but it can also be a huge relief to finally let go of your secret and share what you’re going through.
Deciding whom you can trust with such personal information can be difficult. Choose someone who isn’t going to gossip or try to take control of your recovery. Ask yourself who in your life makes you feel accepted and supported. It could be a friend, teacher, religious leader, counselor, or relative. But you don’t necessarily have to choose someone you are close to.
Eventually, you’ll want to open up to your inner circle of friends and family members, but sometimes it’s easier to start by talking to an adult who you respect—such as a teacher, religious leader, or counselor – who has a little more distance from the situation and won’t find it as difficult to be objective.
2) Learn to manage overwhelming stress or emotions
Understanding why you cut or self-harm is a vital first step toward your recovery. If you can figure out what function your self-injury serves, you can learn other ways to get those needs met—which in turn can reduce your desire to hurt yourself.
3) Professional treatment for self harm
You may also need the help and support of a trained professional as you work to overcome the self-harm habit, so consider talking to a therapist. A therapist can help you develop new coping techniques and strategies to stop self-harming, while also helping you get to the root of why you cut or hurt yourself.
Remember, self-harm doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s an outward expression of inner pain—pain that often has its roots in early life. There is often a connection between self-harm and childhood trauma.
Self-harm may be your way of coping with feelings related to past abuse, flashbacks, negative feelings about your body, or other traumatic memories. This may be the case even if you’re not consciously aware of the connection.
Sources : Helpguide.com and beyondblue.org.au
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