TW: SELF HARM. If you have a hard time talking about this issue please do not read on. We will be going over the common myths that people believe about self-injury.
According to an article written by Penelope Hasking and Stephen P. Lewis on theconversation.com, self harm is very common among young people. Community samples show that 17% of adolescents and 13% of young adults had tried self-harm. There usually is psychological distress that goes hand in hand with self-injury, and people are generally engaging in the act to cope with intense emotions. As we all know, there is still a stigma around mental health in general, which can make people reluctant to seek out help or disclose that they are harming themselves and can leave many people feeling isolated from others. One way to squash the stigma is to debunk common myths about self-harm. Let’s move on to the myths.
Myth # 1: Self-injury is only a “teen fad,” specifically revolving around teen girls. While yes, self-injury usually starts around the adolescence age, people of all ages and genders suffer from self-injury. Studies also showed that the early 20’s age group is another common age to start self-injury, mostly university students. Although it is more common for females to report self-injury and seek out help, both males and females suffer from this issue.
Myth # 2: If you self-injure, then you are only seeking attention. Yet, it is a very secretive behavior, and people tend to hide their self-injury actions. The majority of people say they only self-injure to cope with intense/unwanted emotions. Other reasons that have been reported is to communicate distress, to punish themselves, and to stop a cycle of painful thoughts and/or feelings.
Myth # 3: People who self-injure are suicidal. The definition of non-suicidal self-injury is not motivated by a desire to end life. According to the article, suicide attempts are infrequent, and non-suicidal behaviors can occur more often. Everything about them differs from each other, including the methods used, the outcomes, and treatment responses. People at risk of suicide require more immediate and intensive attention. They both should be taken seriously and responded to compassionately. For those reasons, it’s essential to be clear if you are talking about self-injury or suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Myth # 4: There is a self-injury epidemic going on right now. This myth is not true. Very few people report repeated episodes of self-injury. Furthermore, there are no reports on increase rates of self-injury in recent years.
Myth # 5: Social media contributes to self-injury. In a technology-based society, the internet and social media are relevant to many people who self-injure as it offers a way to get support, share their experience with others who are going through similar issues, and getting coping and recovery-oriented resources. There is a positive and negative side of everything. Despite those benefits, there are graphic images and videos depicting self-injury, which may be a trigger for some.
If you know someone who self-injures, let them know you are there for support in a non-judgmental and compassionate way and try to encourage them to seek out help. It is crucial to keep in mind to not make it seem like you are barking orders. A listening ear and support can make all the difference in the world.
Original post authors: Penelope Hasking & Stephen P. Lewis