There are many stereotypes and myths out there about self-harming. The main one being, it is a call for attention and because of this many people don’t take those who self-harm seriously. In fact, there have been moments in which people dismiss other’s suffering simply because they are self-injuring. In other cases, people can also believe that by saying, “if you love me or if you are my friend. You’d stop hurting yourself”. This can’t be farther from the truth. Here are 13 things people who self-harm want you to know:
**Trigger warning – the following list can be triggering to those who have or are actively self-harming. This content call also be triggering to those who know someone who have or is currently self-injuring**
Self-harm doesn’t equal to wanting to die: although, there are suicidal people who injure themselves. Not everyone who does it wants to die. Those who want to continue living injure themselves for many other reasons.
- To feel something other than numbness: the problem with depression and other forms of mental disorders is that people can experience numbness in their lives. Depending on how long this has been happening. People can become desperate to feel something. So, they self-harm to feel pain even if it’s on a physical level.
- Scars on the body doesn’t give you permission to ask what happened: just because there are visible scars, doesn’t mean people want to talk about it. In fact, scars are a visual reminder of the pain people went through. The least thing they want to do is to talk about it, especially with strangers.
- Self-injury isn’t always a call for attention: one of the stereotypes out there is that people who hurt themselves, especially cutters are seeking attention. Yes, there are people out there who want it and use it as a cry for help. But there are those who don’t want attention. In fact, many hide it or self-harm in areas difficult to notice.
- It’s a distraction from emotional pain: people who are in an abusive situation, coping with trauma or having difficulties managing their emotions. End up relying on self-injury in order to distract themselves from the anguish they are going through. It allows their mind to focus on something else temporarily.
It’s a means of punishment: people can end up feeling guilty, ashamed, or upset at themselves. They believe that whatever is happening to them is because of their fault. In order to cope with this they harm themselves as a means of self-punishment.
- Self-injury helps in solidifying emotional pain: people can feel overwhelmed with their emotions. They can even feel weird and confused about it. So, they hurt themselves as a symbol for their pain. It’s a way of confirming what they are going through.
- It’s a reminder for the future: some people hurt themselves during specific moments of their life. They make sure to leave a visible scar as reminder of what they have gone through. They believe that their scars will remind them of what to stop or not to do. It’s gives a sense of security for what is to yet come.
- Self-harm doesn’t equal to cutting: although, it is quite common and it is what is mostly seen in movies and television shows. There are other ways, like, burning, picking at skin, hair pulling, and head-banging. Sometimes is can leave a mark and other times it doesn’t.
- Teenagers aren’t the only ones that self-harm: self-injury is mostly seen in adolescent females, but people who hurt themselves can be of any age, sexual orientation, economic status and ethnicity. For example, a young adult who is bullied at work can end up self-harming.
It’s a way of self-control: people who are struggling in situations that are out of their control can feel trapped and overwhelmed. So, instead they injure themselves as a coping mechanism. In their mind, harming themselves gives them a sense of control from everything that is happening around them.
- It is addictive, it isn’t as easy as to stop: those who have never injured themselves believe self-harming is easy to quit. People who have relied on self-injury for a long time can become addicted. The reasons behind a person’s self-harming can make it difficult to stop. In fact, those who are addicted can relapse in stressful situations.
- Self-harming doesn’t equal to depression: most of society believes people who self-injure are depressed. Although, it can be a common denominator in those with clinical depression. You do not need to be depressed to hurt yourself. It can be a response to trauma and other mental disorders, such as, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders.
Self-harming is no joke and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you or anyone you know is struggling with self-injury, please reach out for help. It doesn’t make you weak nor does it make you a ‘freak’. The right people can understand you without judgment. There are people out there who care and can help.
Here is a list of helplines:
- Crisis Text Line – text: HOME 741741, free 24/7 support (US)
- Lifeline – call: 13 11 14 (Australia)
- Support line – call: 01708 765200 (UK)
- National Hopeline Network – call: 1-800-784-2433 (US)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call: 1-800-273-8255 (US)
- Linea Pas – Call: 1-800-981-0023 (Puerto Rico)
For additional numbers for different countries, search on Wikipedia: List of suicide crisis lines. There is a huge list provided on there.
Feel free to also read: Suicidal Thoughts – 17 Things That Contribute To It