Self-Harm Awareness Month

self-harm and how to help

March is recognized as Self-Harm Awareness Month. This topic is tough. Self-Harm is defined as “when a person hurts his or her own body on purpose. The injuries may be minor, but sometimes they can be severe. They may leave permanent scars or cause serious health problems.*” But what is the underlying cause? And if you or a loved one are self harming, what can be done?

First of all, what is Self-Harm?

As mentioned above, self-harm is when a person hurts themselves on purpose. This can include a myriad of things. Some are:

  • Cutting yourself (such as using a razor blade, knife, or other sharp object to cut your skin)
  • Punching yourself or punching things (like a wall)
  • Burning yourself with cigarettes, matches, or candles
  • Pulling out your hair
  • Poking objects through body openings
  • Breaking your bones or bruising yourself

self-harm and what to do

Why do people Self-Harm?

There are lots of different reasons why people choose to harm themselves. Often, they have trouble coping and dealing with their feelings.* They harm themselves to try to:

  • Make themselves feel something, when they feel empty or numb inside
  • Block upsetting memories
  • Show that they need help
  • Release strong feelings that overwhelm them, such as anger, loneliness, or hopelessness
  • Punish themselves
  • Feel a sense of control

Who is most at-risk for Self-Harming behavior?

There is a wide range of people who are at risk of self-harm. All ages are included, who harm, but it normally starts in the teen or early adult years. Self-harm is more common in people who:

What are the signs of Self-Harm?

So what are the signs that someone you love could be hurting themselves? Signs that someone may self-harm may include:

  • Having frequent cuts, bruises, or scars
  • Wearing long sleeves or pants even in hot weather
  • Making excuses about injuries
  • Having sharp objects around for no clear reason

What do you do if you think you or someone you care about is self-harming?

If you think that someone you know is self-harming, it is very important not to be judgmental. Let your friend or loved one know that you want to help. If that person is a child or teenager, ask him or her to talk to a trusted adult. If he or she won’t do that, then take the initiative. Talk to a trusted adult yourself. If the person who is self-harming is an adult, you can always suggest mental health counseling.

mental health crisis among our youth

What are treatments for self-harm?

There are no actual medicinal treatments for self-harming behaviors. But there are medicines to treat any mental disorders that the person may have, such as anxiety and depression. Treating the mental disorder may weaken the urge to self-harm.

Mental health counseling or therapy can also help by teaching the person:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • New ways to cope with strong emotions
  • Better relationship skills
  • Ways to strengthen self-esteem

The therapists at Waters Edge Counseling are experienced in dealing with self-harm, and we ask that you reach out to us for more support. You can call us at 912.319.5552 or email us at [email protected]. We are here to help.