Self Harm (A complete guide)

Self Harm

In this brief blog, we will be discussing self-harm, different types of self-harming behaviours, how to cope with self-harming behaviours, and more information about self-harming behaviours. 

What is the definition of self-harming behaviour?

The definition of self-harming behaviour is a kind of self-destructive behaviour that is used as a coping mechanism for some people. Most people would associate this kind of behaviour to s**cide.

Self-harming behaviour can be a form of a call for help from the distressed patient. Some of these affected people use these kinds of behaviours to give them a feeling that life is not worth living. 

Self-harming behaviours are ways of punishing oneself for thinking that they are responsible for a horrible world. People who have died due to s**cide often have a history of engaging in several of these self-destructive behaviours. 

This is why people with self-harming behaviours must be immediately referred to psychological help. People who engage in these kinds of behaviours may find themselves opting that they will finally die and at the same time, crying for someone who can help from their misery.

Symptoms and signs of self-harming behaviours

The symptoms and signs of self-harming behaviours are the following physical evidences that are quite common:

  • Scars, usually in patterns
  • Fresh cuts, bruises, scratches, bite marks or other wounds
  • Extreme rubbing of an area to make a burn
  • Having sharp things on hand
  • Dressing up in long sleeves or long pants even in warm weather
  • Regular reports of accidental harm
  • Problems in interpersonal relationships
  • Behavioural and emotional instability, unpredictability, and recklessness
  • Words of helplessness, worthlessness or hopelessness

You can learn more about self-harming behaviours by buying this book on this website.

Self Harm (A complete guide)

Forms of self-harming behaviours

Self-harming behaviours are usually done secretly where the only witness is the affected person. Behavioural examples of these kinds of behaviours are the following:

  • Cutting such as cuts or deep scratches with a sharp tool
  • Scratching
  • Burning with lit matches, cigarettes or heated, sharp tools such as knives)
  • Carving descriptions or symbols on the skin
  • Self-hitting, head-banging or punching
  • Pinching the skin with sharp tools
  • Penetrating objects under the skin

People who engage in self-harming behaviours are more likely to do these behaviours on their arm, legs, and hands but there is still a chance that other parts of the body will be victimized by these behaviours. These affected people may even use two or more forms of these kinds of behaviours.

Feeling disappointed can trigger these affected people to engage in self-harming behaviours. Some people may engage in these kinds of behaviours at times and then stop altogether. 

However, other people would do self-harming behaviours in repetitive times which makes these behaviours distressing to the person.

Outcomes of engaging in self-harming behaviours

The short-term relief caused by self-harming behaviours can actually be debilitating for the person in the long run. This short-term relief is then followed by extreme remorse and guilt that can arise for engaging in these kinds of behaviours. 

These self-harming behaviours can make you lose your sense of rationality and lose your way of applying healthy coping mechanisms for distressing situations. The secret of these behaviours may cause affected people to feel more isolated and depressed than they were before. 

These affected people may feel too embarrassed or remorseful since they feel that no one will ever understand their engagement in self-harming behaviours. However, keeping the secret of who you are can be an overwhelming burden to carry. 

This secrecy and remorse of doing self-harming behaviours make these people have dysfunctional relationships with their loved ones. You can hurt yourself engaging in these kinds of behaviours even if you didn’t mean to harm yourself. 

You may end up with an infected wound and you may easily shrug this off, especially if you’ve had drugs or alcohol. Once you engage in these self-harming behaviours, you are meant to have more problems in life. 

If you don’t apply healthy ways in dealing with emotional distress, you may be at risk in getting several psychological disorders such as depression and substance abuse disorders. This is also because self-harming behaviours can become a person’s addiction. 

At first, you may find these self-harming behaviours as your ways of controlling yourself but this can turn into uncontrollable behaviours in the long run. These kinds of behaviours can become compulsions if you don’t learn how to avoid these behaviours.

Overall, self-harming behaviours can’t help you in the long run. Even if you feel lonely or any emotion that can cause you distress, you should know that there are other ways of solving these issues even when you consider them difficult to do.

You can start by lessening the secrecy of these self-harming behaviours by learning some tips in this book which is available on this website.

Self Harm (A complete guide)

Influences of why people engage in self-harming behaviours

Studies have shown that people who engage in self-harming behaviours are having problems dealing with distressing events in their lives. These people will often focus on the severity of the problem before engaging in these kinds of behaviours. 

Here are some influences that make people engage in self-harming behaviours:

  • physical or sexual abuse and assault
  • feeling depressed
  • Feeling horrible about yourself
  • relationship difficulties with partners, family, and friends
  • being unemployed or having complications at work

You are also susceptible to engage in self-harming behaviours when you are feeling one or more of these following feelings:

  • that people don’t understand and listen to you
  • hopeless
  • Isolated and alone
  • loss of control
  • powerless where it feels as though there’s nothing you can do to alter anything in your life

These self-harming behaviours are most possible to happen if you also engage in drugs or alcohol as well. Some people are susceptible in doing these kinds of behaviours as their ways of telling people that they are distressed or they want to show those who have hurt them that this is what they make them feel. 

These kinds of expressions tend to be silent since self-harming behaviours tend to be done in the privacy of one’s space.

Who are at risk of self-harming themselves?

People who are at risk of self-harming themselves are those who have depression and anxiety. However, this can happen in people who don’t even have mental health problems in the first place. 

Here are the risk factors that make one person engage in self-harming behaviours:

These people tend to have a mental health concern such as the following:

  • a substance abuse problem
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • borderline personality disorder
  • eating disorder
  • female
  • young person
  • in prison
  •  A mental health hospital seeker
  • a veteran of the military arms
  • being g*y, bisexual or lesbian
  • have lost a loved one through s**cide completion
  • a survivor of physical, sexual or emotional abuse as a child

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Self Harm (A complete guide)

How is self-harm associated with s**cide?

Self-harm can be associated with s**cide by the fact that most people who engage in these kinds of behaviours are crying out for help and not hoping to die. You can engage in these kinds of behaviours as your ways of coping with life’s problems instead of immediately leaving this world.

Self-harming behaviours can lead to s**cide if you are in too deep. This can occur when you might unexpectedly end your life in the process. 

This is why people who are engaging in self-harming behaviours should be taken immediately to professional help.

Fictions surrounding self-harming behaviours

Like other unhealthy behaviours, there are several fictions about self-harming behaviours and people who engage in these behaviours. This isn’t surprising since people with these kinds of behaviours are usually isolated and misunderstood by loved ones. 

Prejudice on self-harming behaviours can be great influences on people who are engaging in these kinds of behaviours. These people need to be confronted to make them express their need for help instead of engaging in these kinds of behaviours. 

These fictions have even arisen due to the misunderstanding of mental health professionals, family, and friends and these are the following discussed below.

FICTION: Self-harm is used to get attention

One of the most typical fictions about self-harm is that this behaviour is used to get people’s attention. However, this is not always the case for affected people. 

These people who engage in self-harming behaviours find it difficult to express what they are really feeling which makes it less likely for them to seek professional help. You can learn more about how this fiction can affect people who are suffering from these behaviours by buying this book on this website.

Self Harm (A complete guide)

FICTION: Self-harm is a goth interest

Self-harm has been recently labelled as gothic or emo behaviours. Studies have found that there is somewhat a link between these two characteristics but there isn’t much evidence to support this claim.

FICTION: Only females self-harm

It is believed that only girls engage in self-harming behaviours but this is not always the case. All genders have the potential to do these behaviours but they have different ways of expressing these behaviours.

You can learn more about the false assumptions surrounding self-harm by buying this book here.

FICTION: People who self-harm took pleasure in it

Most people would assume that people who engage in self-harming behaviours love the pain associated with these behaviours. However, there is no concrete evidence that this assumption is true. 

The truth is self-harming behaviours can cause great pain in the affected person. Other affected people connect depression with these behaviours which only makes the pain from these behaviours numb. 

Other affected people would say that the pain from self-harming behaviours is their punishment

FICTION: Self-harm indicates that the person is s**cidal

Self-harming behaviours are acts of s**cide which were thought by most people who don’t really understand the course of these behaviours. For many affected people, these behaviours act as their ways of dealing with distressing problems that come their way. 

Some people would do self-harming behaviours as their ways of numbing out the distress of the issue. Also, some people who engage in these behaviours may consider s**cide and may end their lives in the process due to intent.

Preventive measures against self-harming behaviours

There is no direct method of minimizing a loved one’s self-harming behaviours. Although the contribution of reducing the risk to engage in these kinds of behaviours should be done by loved ones and the community. 

Here are some ways that people around the affected person can help minimize the risk of engaging in self-harming behaviours such as the following.

  • Determine someone at risk and provide help. Someone at risk can be taught resilience and healthy coping strategies that can be used during times of distress.
  • Encourage enhancement of social connections. Many people who self-harm feel isolated and disconnected. Helping someone form relations with people who don’t engage in these kinds of behaviours can enhance relationship and communication strategies.
  • Enhance awareness. You need to learn about the warning signs and symptoms of self-harm and what to do when you observe it.
  • Encourage peers to find help. Peers tend to be loyal and close to friends. Encourage children, young adults, and teens to prevent privacy and reach out for help if they have an issue about a friend or loved one.
  • Talk about media factors. Music, news media, and other highly visible expressions that emphasize self-harm may urge susceptible children and young adults to test these behaviours out. Teaching children critical thinking techniques about the factors around them might minimize the hurtful effect.

Conclusion

In this brief blog, we will be discussing self-harm, different types of self-harming behaviours, how to cope with self-harming behaviours, and more information about self-harming behaviours. 

If you have any questions about self-harm, please let us know and the team will gladly answer your queries.

FAQs: Self Harm

Why do people hit themselves?

People hit themselves because they find it the only way to cope with distressing situations. This is a form of self-harming behaviour where it is used to minimize the pain of the distressing situation. People who do this kind of behaviour would deny that they feel pain from this behaviour.

What is the color for self-harm awareness?

The colour of self-harm awareness is orange. This is seen in the self-harm awareness campaign where people support the awareness of self-harming behaviours through their orange ribbons.

Do self-harm scars go away?

Self-harm scars do not go away permanently. This is because of some results of self-harming behaviours have created wounds on the skin. This is why the scars don’t heal immediately. The psychological scars are also less likely to go away from these kinds of behaviours.

Is picking a form of self-harm?

Picking is a form of self-harm. Picking the skin can create a wound on the person which can lead to bleeding if the person is not used to the pain. Also, picking the skin can be a form of an anxiety disorder.

What is intentional self-harm?

Intentional self-harm is a behaviour where the person is harming oneself to the point of creating an injury. People who engage in this kind of self-harming behaviour are doing these behaviours to create pain that can numb their distressing feelings.

Do self-harm scars go away?

Self-harm scars do not go away permanently.

Is picking a form of self-harm?

Picking is a form of self-harm.

What is intentional self-harm?

Intentional self-harm is a behaviour where the person is harming oneself to the point of creating an injury.

Can laser surgery remove self-harm scars?

Laser surgery can remove self-harm scars.

Is tattooing a form of self-harm?

Getting tattoos is a form of self-harm if the tattoos are the kind where they are etched in the skin and not inked by the tattoo artist.

Citations

Crown. (2018, May). Overview Self-harm. NHS. Retrieved from here.SupportLine. (n. d.). Problems. Retrieved from here.

Self Harm (A complete guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.