This March, let's talk about Self Harm!
Over the last decade, occurrences of self-harm are becoming more prevalent among teens. In 2023, the CDC estimates that 30% of teen girls and 10% of teen boys self-harm. The numbers are concerning enough for March to be declared Awareness of Self-harm month.
This implies that there are probably two students in every secondary classroom who have self-harmed.
It is to be noted, self-harm is not an effort at suicide or a scream for attention. But for some people, it can be a technique to deal with debilitating and overwhelming thoughts or emotions. Whatever the cause, self-harm needs to be treated carefully.
This article by Skooc is a piece of awareness across the masses and is meant to educate and create self-harm awareness among both parents and youngsters. It is also advisable to seek a counselling psychologist or a licensed therapist before things go out of hand.
To understand Self-Harm profoundly
Self-harm is the act of willfully causing harm or injury to oneself, to cope with difficult emotions, thoughts or situations. It can take different forms, such as cutting, burning, hitting, scratching or hair pulling, and is often accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt and secrecy.
It, however, must not be considered suicidal behaviour but can be a risk factor for suicide, if left untreated. It is a complex issue that affects people of all ages, genders and backgrounds, and requires a compassionate and non-judgmental approach to understand and address.
Prevalence of Self-Harm globally
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 800,000 individuals die by suicide each year, and a huge percentage of these suicides are caused by self-harming behaviour.
Despite the fact that self-harm can affect people of all ages, research has indicated that teens and young adults are the age groups most frequently afflicted.
(If you are aware of a teenager or young adult showing signs of self-harm, it is recommended you seek out teen counselling professionals)
Between 12 to 25% of teenagers are thought to have self-harmed at least once, and if untreated, many of these people might continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Moreover, research indicates that up to 70% of people who self-harm are female.
Self-harm behaviour can be caused by a wide range of circumstances, and these influences might differ from person to person. A history of trauma or abuse, mental health issues including depression or anxiety, feelings of loneliness or isolation, and trouble handling stressful life events are some typical contributing causes. Moreover, some people use self-harm as a coping mechanism for intense emotions, numbness, or a sense of separation.
Teens and their tendency to self-harm
There is no such thing as a typical self-harming adolescent. Self-harm can strike anyone at any time.
However, ‘Most young people reported that they started to hurt themselves around the age of 12.’
Teenagers who self-harm may do so for a variety of reasons, including intense emotional distress, a desire to feel in control, a coping mechanism for difficult situations, or an attempt to communicate their feelings. Self-harm may be linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
Cutting, burning, scratching, hitting, and picking at skin are all examples of self-harm. Self-harm is often a secretive behaviour, and teens who engage in it may conceal their wounds and scars from others. In addition, they may withdraw from social situations and become increasingly isolated.
There are a few indicators to look out for if you think your teen may be self-harming. Unexpected wounds, bruises, burns, wearing long sleeves or pants in warm weather, abrupt changes in behaviour or mood, social retreat, and elevated anxiety or despair are a few examples. It's vital to talk to your kid and, if necessary, seek professional assistance if you encounter any of these symptoms.
Understanding the Self-Harm Cycle
It is possible to avoid self-harm altogether by navigating teens through their current feelings, and explaining to them that it won't last forever. The majority of individuals who self-harm can totally recover with the correct assistance and care.
In order to comprehend why children or teens self-harm, we must examine the emotional cycle that they go through, which goes like this: Shame or grief > Emotional build-up > Panic > Self-Harm > Temporary Comfort > Grief Reaction and then the cycle goes on.
Allow us to explain:
Self-harm typically begins as a means of releasing pressure from upsetting thoughts and feelings. This may provide the person with momentary solace from their emotional suffering. It's critical to understand that this respite is only transitory because the fundamental causes continue to exist. After that, one could experience guilt and humiliation, which might keep the cycle going.
Self-harm can become a person's default method of coping with challenges in life; it may provide some initial transient solace. In order to receive the appropriate support and assistance, it is crucial to speak with someone as soon as possible. At Skooc, you can reach out to a counselling psychologist for a therapy session that will teach the suffering individual how to overcome bouts of self-harm tendency. Long-term self-harm cycle disruption may be made simpler by learning new coping mechanisms to handle these challenges.
What triggers lead to self-harm?
Many things induce tension and concern in various people. Some may find a problem overwhelming, while others may manage these issues by talking to friends and family. When we don't talk about the things that disturb, anger or concern us and express those feelings, the pressure can mount and become intolerable. Some people take this personally and use their bodies as a means of expressing the ideas and sentiments they are unable to verbalise. When this all becomes too much, people frequently hurt themselves. If you self-harm, you could discover that the impulse to hurt yourself increases when you're upset, anxious, worried, or sad.
Several of the above-mentioned situations can be listed as the following core triggers:
disputes with friends,
challenges at home
Challenging adjustments like switching schools or even locality,
alcohol and drug usage,
How to stop someone from Self-Harm Episodes?
The best way to do so is to consult a counselling psychologist. However, as a family or a loved one, it's critical to treat the situation with care and empathy if you know someone who self-harms. Here are some suggestions for encouraging someone to cease self-harming:
To begin assisting someone who is self-harming, you must first listen to them without passing judgement. Give them space to express their emotions and ideas without interfering or attempting to provide solutions.
Empathize with them by expressing your understanding of and concern for their suffering. Empathize with them and acknowledge their feelings.
Urge the person to get professional assistance and offer to assist them in locating a counselling psychologist or support group as part of your support. Assure them of your support by saying so.
Be a Distraction: Self-harm is a coping mechanism for some people who experience strong emotions. Suggest engaging in an activity with them, like taking a walk or watching a movie, that will hopefully keep them from engaging in self-harm.
Promote the Development of Good Coping Techniques: Encourage the person to practise healthy coping techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, exercise, or journaling. Assist them in identifying activities that can bring solace or relief.
Aid them Establish a Safety Plan: Work with the individual to establish a safety plan for when they experience the urge to harm themselves. This strategy could entail reaching out to a dependable friend or relative, practising coping mechanisms, or getting professional assistance.
Be patient and encouraging, and keep in mind that helping someone quit self-harming can be a lengthy process. While you assist your loved one through this trying time, it's crucial to look after your own mental well-being.