Updated: Mar 7, 2022
Self-harming is a behavior that is often very misunderstood. There are many myths surrounding self-harming:
Myth 1: Self-harm is a suicide attempt.
Fact: Self-harm can occur without suicidal ideation.
Myth 2: Self-harm is an attention-seeking behavior.
Fact: Individuals who self-harm are typically ashamed and want to hide their behavior.
Myth 3: Cutting is the only form of self-harm.
Fact: Cutting is a common form of self-harm, but there are other types of self-harming behavior such as burning, picking, hitting, etc.
Myth 4: People who self-injure don’t feel pain.
Fact: People who engage in self-harming behavior do feel pain, but they may experience it differently than those who do not self-harm.
Myth 5: Only adolescents engage in self-harm.
Fact: Self-harm is more common in adolescents but can occur in any age group.
Myth 6: Self-harm is extremely rare.
Myth 7: Young people self-harm to fit in.
Fact: Fitting in is often not the goal of self-harm.
Myth 8: People self-injure as a way to manipulate others.
Fact: Self-harm is not intended to be an act of manipulation. Self-injury is more about relieving tension and distress than it is about manipulating others.
Myth 9: All individuals who self-harm have been abused.
Fact: Having a history of abuse can increase the risk of self-harm, but not everyone who self-injures has been abused.
Myth 10: Self-harm is just a phase that teens will outgrow.
Fact: Self-harm is a serious concern that requires intervention
Myth 11: Self-injury isn’t treatable.
Fact: Psychological treatment is available for those who self-harm, and it can be effective.
If self-harming is something you are struggling with, here are some coping skills you can do instead:
Ice packs: taking an ice pack and placing it over your eyes or submerging your face in cold/ice water can help regulate intense emotions and reduce the urge to self-harm. Holding ice is another good alternative.
Use a pillow to hit a wall, pillow-fight style.
On a sketch or photo of yourself, mark in red ink what you want to do. Cut and tear the picture.
Take a hot bath with bath oil or bubbles.
Take a cold shower.
Do a mindfulness exercise.
Change your surroundings by going on a walk.
Although you may be feeling shame or embarrassment over your self- harming know that you are not alone, and you deserve help. There are many fantastic treatments out there that are very effective in treating self-harming behaviors. There is hope in being able to achieve a life worth living.
Wrote by: D. Belinsky
Mental Health Counselor Intern