Self-harm And Suicidal Thoughts
Help is out there if you are self-harming or having thoughts of doing so, please reach out to someone for help! If you are feeling suicidal, reach out immediately! Here are some helpful links and contact details for you:
Mind - A mental health charity, open at 9am till 6pm on weekdays
- Call - 0300 123 3393
- Text - 86463
Young Minds Parental Helpline - Open to support parents from 9:30 am till 4pm on weekdays
- Call - 0808 802 5544
Harmless - A charity to help prevent self-harm and suicide
- Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
So, What Is Self-harm?
Self-harm is when an individual causes intentional harm or damage to their own body. This is often used as a way of dealing with overwhelming emotions or distress. Over half of those who die as a result of suicide have a history of self-harm, although many people self-harm as a way of punishing themselves or to relieve unbearable tension. In some cases, it could just be a cry for help.
There are many reasons why someone may self-harm and it is much more common than people believe it to be (especially among young people).Some of the main reasons for self-harming are listed below:
- Social Problems - such as bullying, experiencing difficulties within relationships (with parents, family members or friends), difficulties in work or school, coming to terms with their sexuality. or coping with cultural expectations such as arranged marriages.
- Trauma - this could be physical, emotional or sexual abuse, experiencing the death of a close family member or friend, or going through a miscarriage.
- Psychological causes - hearing voices or repeated thoughts telling them to self-harm, disassociating (losing touch with reality, who they are and their surroundings) or mental illnesses such as borderline personality disorder.
Each of these issues can lead to the individual feeling guilty, angry or hopeless and they may turn to self-harm in order to try and relieve these feelings. Self-harm is often linked with depression and anxiety (affecting people of all ages), although many people believe that those who self-harm are suicidal this is not the case. The majority of people who self-harm do not want to end their life, but want to overcome emotional distress. In fact, many people who self-harm do so in order to stop them from feeling the need to kill themselves, sometimes the physical pain reassures them that they are alive, especially if they are feeling emotional numbness. Self-harm can cause changes in brain chemistry over time and therefore it can become addictive and highly dangerous. If you or someone that you know are self-harming, please seek help and support immediately.
Here are some signs to look out for:
- Unexplained cuts, bruises, or burns, usually on the arms, wrists, or thighs.
- Keeping themselves covered up all the time (wearing long sleeves, even in hot weather)
- Signs of depression, such as low mood, self-loathing, tearfulness, and lack of motivation and interest in usual activities
- Expressing the need to 'punish' themselves
- Becoming withdrawn
- Changes in eating habits, such as binge eating or not eating at all (unusual signs of weight loss or gain)
- Excessive exercising
- Signs of pulling out their own hair
- Signs of drug and alcohol abuse
There are different types of self-harm, these are:
- Cutting or burning the skin
- Hitting or punching themselves
- Poisoning themselves (taking tablets or toxic chemicals)
- Deliberately starving themselves (could also be a sign of anorexia nervosa) or binge eating (which could be a sign of bulimia nervosa)
- Excessive exercising
- Misusing drugs and/or alcohol
Most people who self-harm tend to keep it hidden out of fear or shame of it being discovered. If you believe that a friend or family member is suffering, approach the matter with sensitivity, show them that you care for them and love them and that you will not judge them. If they open up to you, offer your support and direct them towards professional help as quickly as you can.
There is a difference between self-harm and suicidal thoughts/tendencies.
As stated earlier, many people who self-harm, have no intention of ending their life, they harm themselves as punishment or to relieve emotional pain. However, those who are having suicidal thoughts, are thinking about ending their lives, what the world would be like without them and what it would feel like to die (not everyone who has suicidal thoughts actually want to end their lives, they are just feeling really low and are wondering what it would be like) Those who have suicidal tendencies, are more likely to act on these thoughts and plan their suicide or maybe attempt it. It is important that if you are worried that someone you know is going to attempt suicide or if they are showing any of these signs, you get help for them immediately!
- Depression, self-harm, and suicide (healthtalk.org)
- Understanding suicide and self-harm (Psychology Today)
- Self-harm (NHS)
- Survey, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts
- The myths and the facts (SelfharmUK)
- The Samaritans
Thank you for taking your time to read this post, if you are suffering from any of the issues raised in today's blog post, please reach out to someone and get the support you need. We are more than welcome to talk to you, there are many people who are willing to help you and support you through your time of need. Do not feel ashamed for who you are or of what you are going through, we understand and we are here.
As ever, #HaveHopeAlways xo