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March is Self-Awareness Injury Month

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Orange ribbon conmemorating self harm awareness month. Illustration.

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.

Fact: Rates of self-harm are higher than most people realize. According to the data, the prevalence of self-harm is 17.2% during adolescence, 13.4% during early adulthood and 5.5% among adults.

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.

  • Exercise.

  • 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

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