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Self-Injury Awareness Month

March is Self-Injury Awareness month and the perfect opportunity to discuss what self-injury is and how to support someone who struggles with injuring. Self-Injury, or Self-harm, is any deliberate and non-suicidal act that causes physical harm to one’s body. There are a multitude of reasons why one may harm their self and it can occur in any population. Self-injury does not discriminate by age, gender, race, religion, or any other qualifier. In most cases the injuring is triggered or caused by an inability to cope with emotions or stressors. While the act of injuring may temporarily relieve the emotional distress, it is often times followed by a period of shame or guilt and that can start the cycle over again.


Warning Signs to Look For:

  • New or unexplained scars
  • Fresh wounds (cuts, burns, scratches, bruises, etc)
  • Keeping or hoarding tools, such as sharp objects
  • Wearing clothing to cover wounds that may be inappropriate for weather
  • Excessive accessories that are not due to a fashion statement
  • Claiming frequent accidents or making excuses for accidents that don’t quite match the wound
  • Spending excessive time alone
  • Difficulties in relationships
  • Questioning their role in the world, reason to live
  • Impulsive or unstable behavior
  • Mood instability
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Expressing negative feelings towards self

How to Help Someone Who is Self-Injuring:

Often times someone who is self-harming is struggling with much deeper stressors or emotional difficulties. This can be lifestyle stressors, home stressors, or underlying mental illness. Because of this, the best thing you can do to support someone you love who is self-injuring is by helping them get the appropriate help. Therapy is vital to recovery and depending on the severity of injury and underlying causes there are a variety of treatment levels available ranging from weekly outpatient talk therapy to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. The focus of these therapies will not only be to identify triggers and help understand the underlying causes of self-injury, but to teach appropriate coping skills to use when the urge or need to injure occurs. The best first step is to contact a counselor and set up an appointment. They can help assess the proper level of treatment and start you or your loved one on the road to recovery.

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