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Old May 12th, 2010, 03:10 PM   #1
Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn's Forum Picture
Name: Siobhan
Join Date: July 18, 2009
Location: London
Age: 23
Gender: Cisgender Female
Default Misconceptions about Self Harm

Self harm is attempted suicide
All people who self-harm are suicidal

People often associate self harm with attempted suicide, however this is rarely the case. People suffering emotional distress may feel suicidal but as self harm is a coping mechanism its function is predominantly to prevent suicide rather than being a suicide attempt.

Some individuals that self harm may go on to complete a suicide attempt. It is unlikely however that self harm is the cause of such suicidal feelings. It is far more likely to be due to the reasons triggering the self harm, such as abuse, bullying, financial worries etc. rather than an extension of the self harm itself.

A survey of 758 respondents carried out by NSHN showed that only 4% of these individuals stated that it was suicidal feelings that led to any of their individual incidents of self harm (Figures correct to August 2009). The feelings most often reported were self hatred, anger, frustration, worthlessness

"I didn't want to die. I just want this pain to stop. The only way I can get some relief from this emotional pain is by hurting myself."
- Anon.

Attention seeking

Self harm is often seen as a cry for help, a ploy to gain attention or as manipulation. However more often than not self harm is a very private and hidden behavior that does not involve anyone else. Some people will take great care in hiding their injuries and scars through shame, embarrassment or fear. They may conceal injuries under clothing, jewelery or make up excuses and explanations. A large number of people who self harm treat their wounds themselves at home rather than seeking medical help. Other individuals who do let people know about their self harm may do this as they have no other way to communicate how they are feeling. Self harm for these individuals may be a cry for help. If someone goes to these extremes it is clear that they are in distress. Though there may be people that do it for attention, many do not, and those who are looking for the attention shows that they are actually wanting help, someone to notice and someone to care.
"Its not about attention-seeking. I go to great lengths to keep my scars hidden at all times."
- Matt, 27.
"It is absolutely not attention seeking, for most people it's very secretive."
- Gerard, 24.
"In the small percentage of cases where it may be considered as attention seeking, there must be some issues that cause them to go to such extremes, so they need help to deal with the issues leading to them self harming just as much as anyone else."
- Anon.

The more serious the injury, the more serious the problem

It is important to take all injuries seriously as the nature of the wound does not represent the extent of the anguish being experienced.
"I feel it is inappropriate to ‘measure’ self harm in such a way. Yes, it may be useful to have some idea of the frequency and intensity and perhaps gain some understanding from that but I do not believe a) the amount of blood, b) number of scars/cuts is going to give you anywhere near the full story of what is going on."
- Anon.

"If you meet someone who self-harms it is fundamental to treat them as an individual with respect and care, do not bother trying to gauge what is going on in their head by the number of stitches they need."
- Gerard, 24.

They must like the pain

Self harm is not about liking pain. It is a way to cope with thoughts and feelings that are depressing or distressing and to regain some control over how you feel. A lot of the time, individuals who self harm do not actually feel any pain due to adrenaline instead they feel a release. Others do self harm for the pain, as it makes the body release all the negative emotions.

Self harm can also be a mechanism that allows individuals to ‘feel’ something as the feeling of being emotionally numb and empty are common symptoms of depression. Such feelings of pain can also be used to ‘ground’ oneself in reality when feeling disassociated such as during flashbacks common with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or manic episodes such as those experienced by individuals with Bi-polar Disorder.

In some cases individuals self harm to punish themselves. This may be due to feelings of guilt or shame. This is common in cases of sexual abuse and sexual assault. Individuals who self harm for these reasons are seeking pain but not for gratification.
"When I self harm I didn't feel any pain at all, I just feel a sense of relief. It's not until after that I feel the pain and that's when I start to regret what I've done."
- Anon.

People who self harm can stop easily if they want to

Self harm is very often a coping mechanism, therefore it is very difficult for someone to stop without learning new ways of coping. Triggers for self harm such as abuse, bullying etc. are unlikely to be resolved over night. Recovery can be a slow process. It is possible that self harm can also turn into an addiction. Therefore it can be a great struggle to stop even if you want to, the same way as it would be for somebody trying to give up smoking or drinking to excess. Individuals may need a great deal of support to move away from using self harm as a method of coping.

Self harm is the problem, if we stop this then the person will be fine

Self harm is rarely the problem, but a solution until other issues are resolved. That's never the case. There is usually an underlying problem that makes self harm so appealing, whether it be a cry for attention or a way of coping with emotional or mental pain.It is the reasons that lay behind individuals self harm that need to be addressed in order to aid a recovery from self harm. Many self harmers have different reasons for harming themselves whether it be family problems, Grief, Bullying, Friendship group changes, changes in the home life, if they were abused and so forth. To some people self harm is like smoking, one cut and you're hooked. It's a hard habit to break and a lot of the time the person will resort to harming themselves more and more over time, its not an instant "I cut once, i won't again" but in term, it's an addiction and gets very hard to quit.
"I try hard with distractions to stop myself from self-harming, however I've come to accept that until the issues behind my self-harm have been dealt with and I start to like myself a bit more then the urges to self-harm are unlikely to go away. I didn't want to self-harm but it's the only way I feel I can cope with my past at the moment."
- Anon.
There’s nothing I can do to help

Wrong, there are many ways you can help. The easiest way to help is by just listening. Don’t judge and be as supportive and understanding as you can. Most importantly, don’t give up. If those that self harm do turn to you for help, don't turn them away, they've gone to you for a reason, they trust you and it takes a lot of courage being able to tell someone that you self harm, let alone ask for help. If they are willing to talk about it recommend and encourage them to seek professional help, coping strategies, anything that you think will help them. Offer ideas for distractions talk about things not related to self harm, watch a film together, go for a walk together but respect requests for time on their own, and don't force anything out if them that they don't wish to tell you. You just have to be there, sometimes that's all you can do and that's okay, they'll understand.

Self harm is an emo/gothic trend

While yes self harm is known to be something related to these groups of people, whether right or wrong the act of self harm excludes no one. People who self-harm come from all types of groups, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. People who self-injure may be male or female, rich or poor, gay, straight, bisexual or questioning, be very well or less well educated, and live in any part of the world. They may be “jocks,” “skaters,” “preps,” or “nerds.” Some people who self-injure manage to function effectively in demanding jobs; they can be teachers, therapists, medical professionals, lawyers, professors, or engineers. It is impossible to classify someone as a person who self-injures (or not) based on what they look like, the type of music they listen to, or who their friends are.

People self harm to fit in or be cool

Young people self-harm in response to emotional distress. Thinking that somebody is burning or cutting themselves just to be cool is a little extreme. Even if somebody did do it once to fit in with mates at school, repeatedly continuing to hurt themselves shows that there is an underlying emotional problem that needs to be addressed.

Self Harm is a young persons issue and only females do it

It is true that self-harm is more prevalent in females than males. However, the prevalence of self-harming behaviorism in males is increasing. In addition, people who self-harm can be of any age. One study on self-harm found that 28% of people who self-harmed were aged 15 to 24 years, while 47% were aged 25 to 44 years.

It is not only the young that self harm, triggers for self harm are experienced by people of all ages.

Results from an NSHN survey (390 respondents)

What age are you?

Under 16 - 9.5%
17 - 25 - 50.3%
26 - 34 - 21.7%
35 - 44 - 12.1%
45 - 54 - 5.9%
55 - 64 - 0.5%
65 plus - 0%

From these results, it is clear to see that self harm is not just a young person's issues. It has an impact on many adults, more than you realise. It could be said that while yes, young people are more focused on in terms of self harm, the adults get forgotten about. This should not be the case.


From myself

Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

[Emerald Dream] if I had a 30 minute orgasm, I would probably need to sleep for a week



Last edited by Harley Quinn; March 3rd, 2013 at 09:08 AM. Reason: updating
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