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How to Deal with Self-harm

How to Deal with Self-harm

What is Self-harm

Self-harm can occur for many different reasons. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are all leading causes of self-harm. Individuals turn to self-injury as a release of the pain they are feeling because they were never taught healthy ways to cope with their mental health.  

Self-injury, as well as the threat of self-injury, is a sign of emotional discomfort. If a person continues to use self-harm as a coping method, these emotions can lead to bigger problems. It can be difficult to ask for help when someone has already begun self-harming. Shame and embarrassment can lead someone to isolate and continue the unhealthy habit. In this article by the Harm Reduction Center, we go over all things self-harm and how to get help. 

Types of Self-harm

Self-harm can take many forms for various people. Self-injuring doesn’t stop at cutting yourself. It is the act of inflicting pain on your body intentionally. Many try to conceal their scars and marks with clothing and jewelry to avoid a discussion. However, it is often close friends and family who see the self-harm and don’t know how to react. Some of the most common types of self-injury include:

  • Cutting
  • Scratching
  • Burning
  • Carving words or symbols into the skin
  • Hitting, punching, or banging your body parts into objects
  • Piercing the skin with sharp objects (hairpins, hooks, etc)
  • Pulling out your hair
  • Picking at existing wounds 

It is important to remember, not all self-harm is done with suicidal intent, however, it is important to approach the situation when you see it. This is because in many cases it can be taken too far and result in death, whether intentionally or accidentally. 

Signs of Self-harm

As we touched on above, many people who self-harm hide their injuries and scars because they don’t want to have to talk about the situation. It’s important to approach a sensitive situation, like self-harm, in a non-threatening or shaming way. Open up the floor for the person to express their feelings and why they are doing what they are doing. Create a safe space with no judgment or remorse. 

If you are unsure what to look out for, some of the warning signs that an individual is self-injuring include:

  • Scarring 
  • Fresh cuts, burns, scratches, or bruises
  • Rubbing an area impulsive to create a burn
  • Having sharp objects on hand
  • Wearing long sleeves, pants, or sweaters, even in hot weather
  • Wearing a large number of bracelets to cover the forearm 
  • Difficulty with interpersonal relationships
  • Persistent questions about personal identity
  • Behavioral and emotional instability
  • Impulsiveness or unpredictability 
  • Saying that they feel helpless, hopeless, or worthless
  • Constant self-isolation
  • Signs of depression, withdrawn behaviors, lack of motivation, etc.

How to Deal With Self-harm

Emotions can be extremely hard to manage and control, especially at a young age. It is a normal method to try and find ways to cope with mental health, as well as processing trauma. If you or someone you know is using self-harm as a coping mechanism, try learning new and positive coping strategies to steer away from bad habits. Different ways to cope, process, and overcome these emotions include:

  • Lean on your loved ones. Find friends or family members who will support you and create an open and safe space for communication. When you’re ready to open up, confide in them and allow them to help you get the help you need. If specific things are causing more unneeded stress, ask a loved one for help if they are able to alleviate some of these stressors. 
  • Get creative. Studies show that diving into art and music can help individuals process and cope with emotions. When you feel overwhelmed or depressed, channel those emotions into something creative. 
  • Prioritize self-care. Eat healthily, move your body, go outdoors, and get a good night’s sleep. These small changes help with brain fog and depression. Seek out other healthy coping tools such as meditation, yoga, art, or anything to help clear your mind. 
  • Seek out professional help. Lastly, seek professional help. Self-harm should not be taken lightly because even if you think it is minor, it can, and will get worse, and potentially lead to suicide. Seeking out professional help is one of the most beneficial ways to overcome self-injuring. Talking to a professional can help you learn and practice healthy alternatives and talk through your struggles. If you’re more of an introvert, try texting or calling from the comfort of your own home.

Getting Help for Self-harm

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety and has turned to self-harm, contact the Harm Reduction Center. At HARC we offer all levels of mental health services. Including counseling, both inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as aftercare programs. There is never a reason you need to suffer alone, contact us today!