There are hundreds of causes for self-harm, some including bereavement, childhood abuse, family
problems, relationship problems and of course bullying.
In today’s society, self-harm is a coping method for thousands of people who are being bullied.
They engage in activities such as:
- Hair pulling;
- Over dosing;
- Throwing ones
- Picking, scratching
or tearing at skin to cause sores;
- Inhaling or
sniffing harmful substances.
are different reasons why people self-harm, and not everyone does it for the same reason. People have said:
- It makes them
feel alive when they feel dead or numb;
- The physical
pain makes them forget the mental pain for a while;
- Seeing the blood
lets them know they are still alive;
- It relieves
the tension when things get too much;
- The blood takes
away the bad feelings;
- Punishing themselves
if they feel guilty or shameful;
- If they are
unable to talk, they secretly wish someone will notice so they can help;
- Its the only
thing they can control if everything else in their life feels out of control;
- It is screaming
people see self-harm as the coward’s way out, or attention seeking. People who self-harm are often bullied or taunted
for doing this, which can later lead to suicide (refer to Bullying and Suicide). Not many intend to commit suicide, but it's a helpful way to release feelings they don't understand
or can't cope with any other way. It is seen as a way of coping with life rather than giving up on it.
is found to be one of the main causes of self-harm, and I researched Childline (0800-11-11 UK) gets more calls each year from
boys who self-harm than girls. The numbers are rising fast and it is becoming a huge problem in various different countries.
Each hour in the US three teenagers between the ages or 13 and 19 self-harm, and one in ten people have hurt themselves purposely
by the age of 16. Nearly half a million people in the UK have hurt themselves once or more in their lives.
One thing I want to stress, is self-harm is NOT attention seeking. Most people who self harm tend to do so in private and keep their injuries covered. Because
of complicated feelings, they often find it hard to tell anyone.
my experience, I know asking for help when you self-harm is very difficult. Some common feelings with telling someone
- Being labelled
mad, insane, suicidal, or attention-seeking;
- Not knowing
who to tell;
- Being worried
the person may be angry or shocked with them;
- Lack of trust;
- They don't want
to hurt other people and feel it's best if they only hurt themselves.
be very hard to understand why a person would want to purposely harm themselves, but it becomes an addiction and sometimes,
the only coping method without actually killing themselves. If you know someone who self-harms, they will probably insist
it is nothing. Don't listen. Take care of them and encourage them to get help, because they do need it. However, don't think
that you telling someone without the person's permission will help the situation, because it is more likely to make matters
worse. Ask them to research self-harm and different ways of telling people and support them through to the end. They need
help and understanding and someone to listen if they need to talk. There are a range of free counselling services available
including The Samaritans and Childline. You can also look in the towns phone book for counselling centres/help lines or visit the doctors and
ask for advice. There is also Connexions Direct, which can offer ways for practical help in various situations.
If you self-harm
Get help! I
cannot stress this enough, please GET HELP. Tell someone: a teacher, your parents, a doctor, a friend, the school nurse, or
the school learning mentor. Anyone you tell can offer you support and help you through it. There is also another way: Helping
of all you need to feel ready to stop self-harming. If you don't feel ready, you may find the urges are out of your control.
what was going on in your life when you began to self-harm? Are the same things still bothering you? Or is it something different?
Can you do anything to control these things? You need to understand why you do it. How do you feel BEFORE you injure yourself?
Can you stop yourself from doing it? I used to keep a mood diary, I found writing my feelings down stopped me harming a lot.
What will you feel like AFTER you've hurt yourself? Will you feel guilt? Shame?
something to take your mind off hurting yourself. Write a diary, draw, go for a walk, spend time with your friends, go and
talk to someone, listen to music, write (stories, poems etc) count slowly from 10 to 0, focus on your surroundings (smell,
sound, texture etc) and breathing slowly - in through your nose and out through your mouth.
still want to hurt yourself, find an alternative! Putting an elastic band around your wrist and twanging it gives you the
same feel as self harm, draw on your skin in red pen, squeeze an ice cube in your hand (that HURTS) punch a pillow or punch
bag, and the list goes on! I regularly use a site called BUS (http://buslist.org/phpBB) to talk - it's based around self-harm
and most of the members self harm or know someone that does, so that’s helpful, but can be triggering.
Last of all, if you are self-harming, just
please get help. If you've just started get help ASAP because it can get addictive, and if you've been self-harming for a
long time, still get help because its something that needs to be dealt with, because it is not normal behaviour.