What is self injury?
Self injury (SI) is the act of harming yourself on purpose *not for attention seeking purposes* through burning, hitting yourself against objects, hitting objects against yourself, pulling out hair, scratching, and other methods. The most common method is cutting.
What kind of people self injure?
Males and females of all ages can self injure. SI is a way people try to cope with problems in their past and present life. Most self injurers have a history of sexual, physical, or mental abuse, have lost a loved one, or grew up in a broken home. Another reason could be that the person grew up fine, his or her parents were fine, but he or she was picked on at school. There are a lot of different people who self injure, and they all do it for different reasons. Here are a few:
- The person enjoys the sight of blood.
- The person feels so numb, that the sight of blood *from cutting*, helps the person feel "alive".
- The person does not find his/her self worthy of living a pain-free life.
- The person cannot cope with his/her problems and they find comfort in pain.
- If the person is being abused, they might feel that the abuse is their fault and hurt themselves as punishment.
- The person cannot express his/her self with words, so they do it through self injury.
Those are only a few, but there are only too many reasons.
Myths About Self Injury
Suicide - The thing that most people don't realize is that self injurers are NOT suicidal, however, self injury leads to suicidal tendencies. Self injury, *mainly cutting* is like marijuana. Marijuana is an entrance drug to other drugs. Self injury is an entrance to suicide. Most suicidal cutters attempt suicide through methods other than cutting.
Attention Seeking - A lot of people think that self injurers are hurting themselves in order to get attention. Wrong, Self injurers usually keep their scars, cuts, bruises, and other marks hidden. They keep every thing inside. The self injury is a secret and that is the problem. They have so much pain inside that is kept secret that they don't know where else to turn. When they do start to self injure, they feel ashamed. That's why they keep every thing hidden from everyone. Most of the time, they put on a smile and pretend that every thing is alright. But unfortunately, everything is not alright. This person DOES need attention, but he or she isn't receiving enough of it.
"Freak" - Many people think that self injurers are "freaks", "weirdos" or "nutters". That is most definitely not the case. Self injurers are just like you and me; they feel emotions, just like you do. When you're angry, what do you do? Hit a pillow? Scream? Go to the gym? What do you do when you're upset? Cry? Hug something? Self injurers don't do that. They injure and hurt themselves. That's what THEY do when they're angry or upset or feel any other kind of intense emotion. That is the only difference between you and a self injurer.
How do you stop self injuring?
The more you understand your need to injure yourself, the more likely you are to be able to make choices and look after yourself. Talking to a friend or relative about your feelings and self-injury may help, but choose carefully who to tell. Be prepared for an emotional, even shocked reaction and go on to say what you need, such as: to be listened to not lectured; to be treated normally and not repeatedly asked if you are OK; to be distracted or offered companionship; or even to be given a hug and a cup of tea! If you feel uncomfortable about talking to a relative or friend, then turn to a professional you feel you could trust, such as a college nurse or the University Counseling Service.
How do you help someone you know stop self injuring?
- By encouraging your friend to talk and listening sympathetically to the feelings involved.
- By maintaining a balance in the friendship through sharing your own joys and worries too. A friendship ceases to be a friendship if it is all one way!
- By suggesting your friend calls you if he or she feels upset or wants to hurt himself or herself. When they do call, think about your own needs. You may be tired or have your own pressures. It is important to be able to say "no" under these circumstances.
I would like to say that, yes, self injury is a wrong way for going about coping. Unfortunately, it is an attempted coping mechanism that 1% of the American population take at least once in their lifetime. Please, if you do not self injure yourself, DON'T START! It is very important that you don't. Self injury is very addictive and very harmful. It can lead to serious damage. Talk to someone if you are thinking about it. That's what we are all here for.
Lastly, I want to say that YES there is a way out. Many, many people have stopped and so can you! I know it's hard and it's so much easier said than done, but it IS possible. It will take time, and you WILL need help and support! The most important thing is that YOU want to stop. Once you have your mind set, anything is possible. Just don't give up.