Awareness for self injury is about educating people who do not self injure, and reaching out to people who do. By using Self Injury Awareness Day as a platform for breaking down the common stereotypes surrounding self injury, we aim to reduce the number of people who feel isolated and suffer in silence.A common misconception about those who self injure is that they are often mentally ill. Self injury however, is not a diagnosis, rather it is an expression of challenging or unmanageable emotions. Therefore, although there are many reasons for why people may cause deliberate harm to their own body, depression and self injury often go hand in hand.
Self Injury can be defined under the umbrella of self harm as a coping mechanism, whereby an individual harms their physical self to deal with emotional pain, or to break feelings of numbness (often caused by depression) by evoking sensation. It is a deliberate, non suicidal behaviour that inflicts physical injury towards a person’s own body.
Symptoms of Self Injury
The most common types of self injury towards a persons own body are:
- Hair pulling
The physical affliction caused by self injury stimulates an immediate, but temporary relief by creating ‘real’ pain as a response to emotional pain. This relief however, is only a short term solution to the more complex emotional pain – which still remains. Using self injury as a way of managing emotions, increases the likelihood that an individual will start to use self injury as a mechanism for dealing with the ordinary pressures of everyday life, which in turn, increases the severity and frequency of self injury.
What can I do?
By recognizing that self harm is a coping mechanism, individuals can focus on encouraging positive behavior change, rather than negatively judging or telling an individual to stop. By identifying healthier coping mechanisms for emotional distress, individuals may choose to move away from self injury. It is therefore best to focus on the reasons behind the self injury, rather than the injury itself.
The same problems that cause emotional distress can also lead to thoughts of suicide. If you, a friend or a family member ever mentions suicide, seek additional professional support immediately.