In My Opinion
Types of Self-Injury
pulling out hair
picking at skin
use of illegal drugs
Is self-harm a suicide attempt?
- Self Injury is NOT a series of failed suicide attempts - those who self injure do so more to 'cope' than as a way out - a way of dying. In that way this myth is the worst as it is give totally the opposite meaning. It is true that many self injurers contemplate suicide as an extreme option. Many do suffer with the same kinds of illnesses that those who commit suicide do. However self injury is not done with the intention to kill oneself.
I have struggled with self-injury for several years. I have also seriously attempted suicide. I can confidently say that there is a big difference between the two issues. Self-injury is a coping skill that I use in order to feel better. Suicide, on the other hand, is not a way of coping but of giving up. There have been many times that I have used SI to prevent suicide.
Trying To Stop
In a way, self-injury is like an addiction. You have to cut (or burn, scratch, etc.) more and more each time for it to be effective. It is never easy to give up an addiction. It takes motivation that, many times, people that SI lack. I've tried to stop a few times and have been able to quit cutting for a maximum of a few months at a time. Stopping for even that short amount of time was difficult. I had to realize that I didn't deserve what I was putting myself through. I had to gain some sense of self-worth. Then I had to consciously decide to stop, whatever it took and however hard it would be. Most of all, I had to have something to replace my behavior. I had to find other coping skills to take the place of self-injury. It wasn't easy, but I did it. And yes, I have regressed. Just like people who become addicted to drugs, people who SI are ofted thinking about that next cut. It's hard to battle those thoughts every time. Sometimes we give in, and fall back into the pattern of cutting. That's where I am right now. But I also believe that, when I am ready, I will be able to stop again. I believe anyone can stop if they really want to... even if it takes some help along the way.
When you know someone who deliberately harms themself... Do's and Don'ts
Ignore the problem
Treat the person any differently, as if he/she were "crazy"
Threaten to tell others
Repeatedly tell the person to stop
Tell the person that you care and want to help
Offer to go with the person to talk to a counselor
Some Alternative Coping Skills
read a book
write in a journal/diary
go for a walk
breathing exercises (inhale and push your stomach out, exhale and suck in)
Draw on your skin with red markers or red paint (the washable kind!)
Color, draw, paint
Call a friend
Snap rubberbands against your wrist
Hold ice in your hand
Get some clay or play-dough