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Self Harm Awareness Day - Dispelling the Myths
1st March 2013 ... Charlotte
Today is self harm awareness day. Recent research suggests that in the UK 1 in 15 young people have self harmed, but despite this many people still struggle to understand this behaviour. To mark the awareness day I thought I would try to dispel some of the myths around self harm.
Self harm is attention seeking ...
Generally self harm is a secretive behaviour; individuals may go to extreme lengths to hide their self harm. Furthermore there is nothing wrong with needing attention, we all need and like some form of attention however there are many ways to get attention without hurting yourself. If someone is harming themselves, no matter what the reason, they are obviously struggling and something needs to change in their life. The individual needs help and support to understand what they gain from self harm and how they might achieve this in a safe way.
There is one reason why individuals self harm ...
In fact there are many reasons why a person may choose to self harm. These reasons vary from person to person. Furthermore an individual may hurt themselves for different reasons at different times depending on the situation.
Self harm is a suicide attempt ...
Self harm differs from a suicide attempt because there is not the intention to end one's life. Indeed an individual may choose to self harm in order to prevent themselves doing something worse. Unfortunately on some occasions self harm can cause complications and result in death even when this is not the person's intention.
Self harm is a mental illness ...
Self harm in itself is not a mental illness, although it can be a symptom of conditions such as depression or borderline personality disorder.
People grow out of self harm ...
Sometimes it is assumed that self harm is only a problem for teenagers, however anyone of any age can suffer. As an individual matures they may learn alternative skills that help them to cope with their difficulties and find that they no longer rely on self harm as a coping strategy.
Self harm is not serious ...
Self harm is always serious! Even if the wound is superficial it should not be disregarded. You cannot judge the psychological suffering that an individual is going through by the significance of the injury.
You cannot recover from self harm ...
Even if someone has been self harming for years it is always possible to learn alternative coping strategies to tolerate distress and regulate their emotions. This may take time and there may be relapses but recovery is possible.
To read stories from young people who experienced self harm during their school years please visit our Student Stories webpage.