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Self-Harm Awareness Month

Self-harm awareness month
March is Self-harm Awareness Month

Self-harm or self-injury is a behavior caused by extreme emotional distress. Individuals, in particular teens, engage in different types of self-harm and can be difficult to identify. Up to 30% of teenage girls and 10% of boys admit to intentionally hurting themselves, according to the CDC. Another study indicates up to 25% of young people engage in self-injury. Rates of self-harm have increased significantly over the past decade.


Forms of Self-Harm

  • Cutting

  • Scratching

  • Burning

  • Carving (words or symbols) on skin

  • Self-Hitting or Punching

  • Self-piercing

  • Inserting objects under skin


The most frequent areas of self-injury occur on the arms, legs or front torso.


Why do they do it?

  • Poor coping skills

  • Inability to manage emotions

(This could be complex. Feelings such as worthlessness, loneliness, anger, panic, guilt, rejection, or sexuality confusion)


Self-harm could be done to manage or reduce distress, as a distraction from painful emotions, a sense of control, to feel something (even physical pain), to express feelings externally, or to punish over perceived faults.


Warning Signs

  • Volatile emotions

  • Scars

  • Fresh wounds

  • Excessive rubbing

  • Carrying sharp objects

  • Wearing long sleeves even in warm weather

  • Reports of “accidental injuries”

  • Poor relationships

  • Behavior instability

  • Emotional instability

  • Statements of no hope, helplessness or worthlessness


Risks

Self-harm is not usually an attempt at suicide, but it does increase the risk. The same triggers that cause self-harm are typically what eventually lead to suicide. Depression, emotional distress, feelings of guilt or hopelessness… they are signs.


How to help

If you see someone displaying signs of self-harm you can offer to help them, encourage them to connect with loved ones, reach out for help for them, and don’t judge them or joke about their feelings.


If you see something, say something. You may feel like you’re betraying their trust, but ultimately, you could be saving a life. Some problems are just to big to ignore. If it’s a child a healthcare provider or mental health professional can offer guidance. If its a pre-teen or teen, suggest they speak to a parent, counselor or trusted adult. If it’s an adult gently express your concern and encourage them to seek help. If the situation or injury seems life-threatening call 911. If you believe they might attempt suicide call 911. If it’s you having suicidal thoughts, call the hotline at 800-273-8255 or chat online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.


Resources

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