Self-Injury Awareness Month 2023: Let’s Break The Silence
“You don’t feel like you’re hurting yourself when you’re cutting. You feel like this is the only way to take care of yourself.” – Marilee Strong
Self-injury or self-harm is an action that people take when they are in extreme emotional distress. Self-injuries are non-suicidal but are intentional and they usually mirror a person’s psychological state with physical pain.
Self-injurious behavior may cause a person to feel temporary relief from whatever mental or emotional pain they are experiencing but in some cases, self-harming behavior can be a way for a person to make sure that they are experiencing something other than emotional numbness.
March of every year is dedicated to spreading awareness on self-injury or self-harm. This day and month are recognized to draw the attention of those who struggle with self-harm.
The most common forms of self-injury are:
- Skin cutting
- Flesh burning or branding
- Picking at skin Head-banging
- Hair pulling
- Excessive consumption of alcohol, drugs, or other substances
People affected more by self-injurious behavior are:
- People with a history of physical, emotional, or sexual trauma
- People with a problem like substance abuse, addiction, OCD, eating disorders, etc
- People who lack skills to express emotions
- People who lack a strong social support system
- People with dysfunctional family relationships
While self-harming behaviors are not suicidal or lethal, they can, however, turn life-threatening if not approached early.
Signs Of Self-Injurious Behavior:
- Bruises, scabs, burns, or cuts on the body
- Overdressing and constantly wearing long-sleeved shirts or pants
- Making excuses for how they got injured
- Social isolation or avoidance
- Withdrawing from activities or events that they once enjoyed
Signs that someone is engaging in self-harming behaviors can be:
Almost 90% of self-injury cases are reported in teenagers and young adults. While people with this behavior might feel temporary relief from emotional suffering, they are reluctant to seek help because of the stigma surrounding such behaviors.
Many people who engage in self-harming behaviors are usually seen as attention-seekers which may drive them to further isolate themselves.
How To Help
If you see someone you know showing the signs of self-injury, then you need to know that self-injury is not a phase. It is not an attention-seeking behavior, either. Self-injury is a symptom of emotional and mental problems that shouldn’t be ignored or left untreated.
If you know someone with such tendencies, then you should:
- Talk to them about their behavior as calmly and as gently as possible. Showing fear and anger to them may cause them to isolate themselves further.
- Talk to them in a non-judgmental way and be as supportive as you can.
- If you say “I’m here if you want to talk/discuss” then follow up on that. Be available to them to discuss what is causing them to react in such ways.
- Do not force them to talk. Be available for them when they are ready to talk.
- Explain to them that there is help available. Offer them your help but be gentle and not
- If they are a direct threat to others or themselves, immediately contact a helpline or emergency services.
If you need to connect with a helpline number you can contact:
- AASRA: 24/7 helpline number: 022 27546669
- Sneha India: 24/7 helpline number: 044 24640050
- One Life: 24/7 helpline number: 7893078930
- Vandrevala Foundation helpline number – 1860 2662 345
- NAMI helpline number: 1-800-950-6264
You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and additional support.
Don’t Be Judgmental – Be Supportive
When someone is going through a traumatic event, self-injury might seem like a good choice to them. As someone who loves and cares for them, you need to be supportive and not act judgmental or disgusted.
Showing them your support can go a long way to help them seek the help they need. As a supporter, you need to actively participate in understanding more about this condition and spread awareness to remove the stigma people often face when it comes to getting help.
Related Read: The Importance Of Therapy In Your Life
Self-injury awareness month is your chance to help stop the stigma, understand the psychology behind such behavior, and be open and supportive to your loved ones as much as possible. Many people suffer in silence because they are afraid to ask for help and fear being judged. YOU can stop that.
Teenagers are more likely to be affected by self-injury or self-harming behavior and they are more likely to feel vulnerable. With help and support, they can learn to cope with their trauma healthily and can live a happier, hearty life.
“It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again.” – Vince Lombardi