How many facts about self harm do you know? While most people are aware of self harming, it is definitely something that is not talked about enough. And while we’re all avoiding the topic, the number of people who self harm is increasing. Whether you self harm yourself, know someone who does or have never encountered self harm before, these facts about self harm will prepare you for what it is, who does it, and what you can do to help. After all, it’s always better to be informed.
1. Who Self Harms?
One of the most searched facts about self harm is who actually does it. Recent studies have suggested that between 13 and 25 percent of teenagers and young adults have a history of self harm, although the real number could be higher. Many people struggle to admit to injuring themselves, whether they did it in the past or are still doing it now. The average age for people who self harm is between 14 and 16 years old, although people do self harm at all ages, and it affects both men and women.
2. What is Self Harm?
Cutting is the most common form of self harm, but there are many more. Some people might bruise themselves on purpose, or pinch themselves, or pull out their hair. To self harm, no specific method needs to be used – you are self harming if you are deliberately causing yourself physical pain.
3. Why do People Self Harm?
Self harming can serve many purposes. Typically, someone hurts themselves as a way of psychologically dealing with pain, stress or tension. For example, if something upsetting happens, a person may self harm to detract from the emotional pain that they are feeling. Similarly to alcoholics or drug addicts, self harm can become an addiction, and that can have distressing consequences.
4. Does Therapy Work?
Talking to a therapist is often hugely beneficial for self harmers. It provides a safe place to talk about the things that make them self harm, and the therapist can advise on different, more effective, ways to deal with emotions. People often worry about how they can see a therapist without admitting to self harm. The easiest way is to ask your parents to make an appointment because you are feeling stressed and anxious. Be persistent.
5. Can Online Communities Help?
There are a lot of online groups about self harm. Not all of them will help you. Joining a community of people who are resisting the urge to self harm can help you to feel more normal, and it gives you the opportunity to talk to people who really understand what you are going through. Online communities can be triggering, though. Don’t engage with communities or people who encourage cutting, or who post injuries of their cuts. You’ll find it too tempting.
6. How Can I Fight off Urges?
The main issue when you stop self harming is dealing with those emotions that you’ve been hiding from. You need to train your brain to accept a release which isn’t self harming. Examples could be writing positive messages to yourself where you normally cut, or snapping a rubber band or hair tie around your wrist whenever you get the urge. Try distracting yourself with an activity such as drawing, cooking or exercising, too.
7. How Can I Help?
Whether you self harm yourself or you know someone who does, there are things you can do to help. The first is to be there to talk, or to find someone to talk to. It really does help. The next is to use the timer tactic. Make an agreement that you’ll tell someone if you are going to self-harm. Then distract yourself for ten whole minutes, with the person providing support. Once you’ve managed 10 minutes, slowly move towards 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and so on until the urge is gone. You can be the supportive person if you know someone who self harms. Just be encouraging.
One of the most important facts about self harm is to remember that self harm is difficult, and you’ll have good days and bad days. Self harm is confusing and emotional, and sometimes even the person who self harms isn’t sure why they are doing it, or how they can stop. Patience and encouragement are key to dealing with this.