Self-Harm Awareness Month

What is Self-Harm? 

Self-Harm is the act of purposely causing pain and damage to one’s own body. Usually, the person who self-harms is not attempting suicide but more so looking for a release of their negative emotions. Though some may express satisfaction due to the temporary feeling of control or disengagement from reality, there are a numerous of risks that come with it. As a mental health coordinator when conducting our Sources of Strength training, we talk about the three big emotions, anger, anxiety, and sadness. These three big emotions seem to be the top triggers that lead to self-harm.  

What does Self-Harm look like? 

Self-harm can look different for everyone. The most common act of self-harm is cutting. We must keep in mind that self-harm is anything that one can purposely do to hurt their body. 

Here are other common types of self-harm:

  • Unexplained bruises, scratches and burns. 
  • Punching oneself or banging head against an object or surface 
  • Carving symbols/words/letters into skin 
  • Pulling out hair 
  • Picking at wounds and scabs 

These are just a few of the many types of self-harm behaviors. Though it is easy to see visible wounds and inflictions there are other ways you may be able to notice if there is possible self-harm occurring.

Here are some common signs to look for if you are suspecting someone in your circle is self-harming: 

  • Wearing long-sleeved tops even in hot weather 
  • Having hard time regulating their big emotions (anger, anxiety, sadness) 
  • Always saying negative terms that identify how they are feeling (“I am worthless”) 
  • Impulsive behaviors 
  • Isolating themselves for long periods of times (bathroom) (bedroom) 

Self-Harm is a temporary feeling to release a negative emotion therefore it is important to understand what triggers you to want to self-inflict. Once you learn what pushes you to self-harm, try to figure out ways that can help minimize or dismiss those thoughts as soon as possible. 

Here are some helpful tips to take your mind off the need to self-harm:  

  • Talk to a positive friend. 
  • Go out for a walk. 
  • Listen to upbeat music. 
  • Move your body! Exercise  
  • Find a comfortable spot to sit or lay in calmness. 
  • Squeezing a stress ball 
  • Painting or coloring to distract your mind. 

Ultimately, replacing the urge to self-harm with a healthy coping skill is key. Again, everyone is different so your healthy coping skill may look different from the few listed. Most importantly, it is essential for you to realize that there is a problem with your self-harming behaviors and seek for alternatives and professional help if needed. 

Self-harm may give you a temporary feeling of release, but it is not a healthy way to cope with your feelings. Listen to your thoughts and be mindful that there is always help available, you do not have to go through this alone.