On a previous post, when I talked about how to help someone with self harm urges, I realised that there may be a few misconceptions surrounding the behaviour. Self harm is such a complex issue and at times can be confusing for the person engaging in it, as well as the people who are supporting them. It is often clouded in mystery as many people choose to not speak about their thoughts and feelings around self harm. This covering up only helps to fuel the myths surrounding self harming behaviour and those who engage in the behaviours.
Below are a list of common misconceptions the public often have about self harm and the people who struggle with it.
- People who self harm are just doing it for attention. False. Many people who self harm go to great lengths to hide their behaviour. Even if someone does do it to gain someone’s attention, there is often underlying issues that lead to the person crying out for help.
- People who self harm are trying to kill themselves. False. Self harm is a coping mechanism, a destructive one, but the intent is not to die. The desired effect varies from person to person but the most common reasons are to feel something, to help distract from intense feelings or to feel numb. Sometimes a person who self harms can accidentally commit suicide but that is often not the case.
- People who self harm are dangerous. False. I find this one the most strange. The first word of the phrase is *self*, which would indicate that the person intends to hurt themselves rather than anyone else. Of course they may indirectly hurt loved ones who don’t understand what is going on, however, people who self harm are not known to physically harm other people.
- It’s just a phase, they’ll grow out of it. False. While self harm is something that often starts in the teenage years, it does continue into adulthood if adequate support is not given. Self harm is a symptom of an underlying problem and until that problem is taken care of, the person will more than likely continue to turn to self harm as a coping mechanism.
- Self harm is something that only Emos or Goths do. False. Self harm doesn’t discriminate. You can’t determine if something has or will self harm because of the way they dress or the music that they listen to. Self harm isn’t a fashion statement that is toted around as being the new *in* thing. Self harm affects people from all walks of life.
If you are struggling with self harm, you don’t need to do it alone. I urge anyone who is thinking about self harm to contact their GP or give the wonderful people at LifeLine a call on 13 11 14
Linking up with Essentially Jess of IBOT