Self-harming is highly damaging behaviour which can literally affect anyone of all ages with the right triggers.  The problem has been around since biblical times and back then was termed “self-flagellation”. 

Since not everyone seeks help for self-harming it is difficult to be accurate about the numbers within specific age groups but it is increasingly a problem among young people in the Millennial Generation.

Essentially, self-harming means to inflict physical damage to yourself to convey feelings which cannot be put into words or to release painful emotions.  People who self-harm may initially feel better for a time but this is only temporary relief.  The painful feelings can and will return, and then the cycle repeats itself.

Possible Root Causes for Self-Harming

It is clearly a significant cause for concern if you or someone close to you is causing intentional injury to their body.  Self-harming can be linked to anxiety and depression but can also involve:

Why Self-Harm?

Some people who self-harm do it to try to feel in control of something when they actually feel powerless.  Some do it to simply feel alive or to feel anything because all they feel is numb and empty.

Self-harmers often hide their injuries so outward signs may not be immediately apparent. Keeping their behaviour secret is isolating, further adding to their despair and loneliness.  They develop feelings of guilt and become trapped in a downward spiral where they feel shame for their behaviour.  They do not believe anyone will understand and this mindset adversely affects their relationships.

Identifying People Who Self-Harm

If you know what to look out for there are many different ways to detect that something is wrong.  Note unexplained physical injuries such as cuts, bruises and even cigarette burns.  Very often these can be found on wrists, arms, thighs and chest areas.  It is probable that self-harmers will keep their body fully covered no matter how hot the weather is.  Other classic indications to look out for include signs of depression as well as:

Less obvious self-harming behaviours include:

Self-Harming Is Used to Cope with Significant Emotional Distress

Self-harmers have a very real intention to self-punish, relieve intolerable tension or to deal with deep and overwhelming emotional distress. The reasons behind this behaviour can include one or more of these possibilities.  It should be regarded very much as a painful cry for help and should not be ignored. 

High Risk of Suicide

Some self-harmers can feel like they want to die so it is not surprising that those engaging in self-harm are at high risk of attempting suicide.  In fact, figures suggest that in more than 50% of deaths by suicide there had been a history of self-harming.  With suicide statistics like this, self-harming behaviour needs to be taken seriously.  Self-harming people should not be dismissed as attention seeking.  The sad truth is that they self-harm in secret and are fearful of discovery.  Many do not really want to commit suicide at all.

Common self-harming methods involve cutting or burning the skin, punching themselves or poisoning with toxic substances. 

Close family and friends are often best placed to notice when a person is self-harming.  Anyone wanting to support a self-harmer must acknowledge and overcome their feelings of shock when they realise someone they care about is a self-harmer.  Seeing things from their loved one’s perspective and learning about the issue will help them to be supportive. 

Help for Self-Harming People

Self-harming can start with a momentary impulsive reaction to an event.  But the situation can soon escalate to a seemingly uncontrollable compulsion and then it can become very addictive.

Teaching self-harming people how to deal with emotional pain and trauma in a more positive way is essential.  Help from a qualified health professional should be sought at the earliest opportunity – the earlier it is caught the easier it is to address.

Many GPs are happy to refer self-harmers for hypnotherapy and other complementary services.  It is critical that the underlying root cause or triggers are identified and resolved.  Hypnotherapy can be very effective at doing this.  If you would like to learn how hypnosis can improve resilience and eliminate self-harming then please contact Nicki at nicki@thewellbeingpeople.co.uk or call 07568 145151.

Mental health has for too long been something that was talked about in whispered, quiet tones and something of a taboo.  The stigmas associated with these issues has meant emotional traumas are often left buried deeply in the subconscious causing considerable harm to the individual person over the long term. 

What Can You Do to Raise Mental Health Awareness?

Over the last century, knowledge and understanding of these issues has improved but the mental health awareness and the required support to encourage change remains thinly spread.   It is well known that mental health issues are hugely detrimental to general health and #wellbeing if neglected and in the long term can lead to clinical diagnosis, #self-harm or even suicide.  Men are often fighting to live up to the out-dated idea that they must always be strong and not show their #emotions and end up suffering in silence.  Our young people are our future and yet they can often be left without effective support during the challenging teenage years sometimes resulting in long term mental health conditions as adults or early suicide statistics.   The fallout from suicide and on-going mental health issues adversely affects individuals, friends, families, colleagues, whole communities and businesses.

What Can You Do to Raise Mental Health Awareness?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirm that, in 2019, suicide is the second highest cause of death for young people (aged 15 – 29 years old).  This makes horrific reading when you consider that suicide is highly preventable.  Just think, every 40 seconds someone dies through suicide.  This is a situation that everyone has to play a part in resolving if we are to win the war. 

Suicide is the very commendable WHO focus for World Mental Health Day this year.  Mental Health is something which affects day to day lives 365 days a year, 24 hours a day with no let-up and it must be carried forward beyond a single day of awareness.  Putting it to the back of our minds will resolve nothing and not talking about it does not make it go away.  Constant reminders and taking action to encourage positive mental health goes a long way to tackling the issues which lead to #suicide.  We must also remember that suicide can affect anyone, anywhere and it does not matter what social background you hail from.

What Can You Do to Raise Mental Health Awareness?

The WHO wants us all to consider what each of us can do to encourage greater awareness of mental health issues in your community, organisation, school, family and social circles.  This is a very worthwhile endeavour so what can we each do as individuals?  Here are some ideas:

The places where we spend much of our day, such as schools and corporate work environments, are best able to help with on-going education around mental health issues including suicide awareness.  They can do this by providing ongoing mental health education, training and support across the whole organisation to students, staff and employees in line with HSE requirements. They can ensure there is always someone (appropriately trained) to talk to when individuals are overwhelmed by life and work challenges.

If you have any questions or would like to learn about mental health and wellbeing support, contact Nicki at nicki@thewellbeingpeople.co.uk or call 07568 145151.

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To book a service or to find out more about we can do for you please get in touch.
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