Self harm is when a person causes physical pain to themselves.
It can include cutting, biting, scratching, burning and many other ways.
There can be many reasons that a person self harms for example they could be getting bullied, experiencing a loss, discrimination, stress, disability's etc.
People can self harm as a release and its a way they cope with overwhelming emotional pain.
It is a difficult issue to start talking about and not a lot of people understand why someone may self harm.
Types of self-harm
There are many different ways people can intentionally harm themselves, such as:
cutting or burning their skin
punching or hitting themselves
poisoning themselves with tablets or toxic chemicals
misusing alcohol or drugs
deliberately starving themselves (anorexia nervosa) or binge eating (bulimia nervosa)
People often try to keep self-harm a secret because of shame or fear of it being seen. They may cover up their skin and avoid discussing the problem.
It's often up to close family and friends to notice when somebody is self-harming. They should approach the subject with care and understanding.
It can also include behaviours that have some level of suicide intent, such as overdoses.
How to support someone who self harms.
Stay calm, you may feel angry or confused as to why someone you care about would self harm, but acting with anger can shut the conversation down and make that person feel worse and more alone.
Self harm is a sign of serious emotional distress. you can ask open questions about their feelings. these can be as simple as "how are you feeling". Give them time to openly express their emotions and give them space and time to talk.
Show that you care and be non- judgemental.
Tell them about support services available and tell them they aren't alone. https://www.samaritans.org/ireland/how-we-can-help/if-youre-having-difficult-time/if-you-want-self-harm/
Be patient because it will take time for them to feel better and they might not understand yet why they feel the way they do.
How to help yourself if you self harm
You may feel like self harming is your only way to feel better or feel able to cope, but there are other ways. There are services out there made to help.
Self harm is not your only option, you could call a helpline or text
We do have a page where there are many supports -Resources and Helplines
These services have trained professionals who want to help you.
You are not alone you will get through this.
You can also go to your GP for help.
Keep a journal,
writing down your feelings
Write a letter about how you are feeling and tear it up.
Colour an entire blank page until its filled with colour.
walk a pet
Tear a piece of paper into hundreds of pieces
Draw on yourself with red marker where you want to self harm
Hold ice cubes. they can ground you and you can also add red food colouring
Cook or Bake
Clean or organise your room.
say the alphabet backwards
There are more distraction techniques on -http://www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu/perch/resources/distraction-techniques-pm-2.pdf
There is no shame in asking for help, we all need some from time to time.
Talk to a trusted adult like a teacher or parent, you can also talk to your friends.
I got some of this information from the different sites already linked but I myself know how hard it is to struggle with self harm so you are not alone. with the right supports and motivation self harm can be something in your past.
If you need any more information from The Hope Project ask on the "Lets Chat" button on the website or email Thehopeproject.email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.