At TGH Urgent Care, powered by Fast Track, we aim to shed light on the topic of self-harm and foster a deeper understanding of this complex issue. Self-harm involves the intentional act of inflicting pain on oneself, often as a coping mechanism for emotional turmoil. While self-harm does not necessarily indicate a desire for suicide, it is crucial to recognize the increased risks involved and provide the necessary support to individuals who engage in these behaviors. Join us as we explore the underlying reasons for self-harm, its prevalence among certain demographics, and the importance of seeking help and support.
Understanding What Self Harm is
Self-harm is when someone purposely inflicts pain onto their own body. If someone is self-harming, it does not necessarily mean they are trying to take their own life, however they are at a higher risk for attempting suicide and dying than people who do not. Self-harm usually begins in teens or young adults, and can happen once or continue on. Those that self-harm typically do it in secret, in fear of what other people might think or say or because they worry that their feelings may not be understood. The most common places people self-harm is on the arms, legs, chest, or the stomach, but that does not mean someone can’t or won’t self harm in other areas of the body.
Why Might Someone Self-harm?
Most people that self-harm use it as an unhealthy way of coping or as a way to relieve their emotional turmoil in a physical way. A lot of people self-harm as a way of distracting themselves from the emotions they feel or find that physical pain is much easier to deal with than the way they feel on the inside. Some teens do it as a way to stop feeling angry, lonely, or hopeless.
Unfortunately, not everyone is taught how to handle or cope with their emotions, so it can be used to help get through various emotions, traumas, experiences, and other problems. Another reason someone may self-harm is because they believe that they deserve to be punished, either for doing something wrong or simply because they do not feel like they are good enough. It is normal to be overwhelmed by feelings at times and some people do not feel comfortable with their feelings or know how to alleviate them in a healthy way. Some people do it as a cry for help or so others can see it and be aware of how they are feeling on the inside without having to come out and say it.
Dissociation which means you detach yourself from yourself and reality also contributes to self-harm, as people that do this often do it in order to remind themselves that they and their environment are real.
You Are More Likely to Self-harm if you:
- have an eating disorder
- have a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or BPD
- are part of the LGBTQ+ community
- have a substance abuse issue
- are a female
- have lost a loved one due to suicide
- are a victim/survivor of emotion, sexual, or physical abuse as a child or an adult
Types of Ways People Self-harm
- Burning with cigarettes, matches, lighters, or candles
- Hitting or punching oneself or other things
- Piercing the skin
- Breaking bones
- Head banging
- Intentionally neglecting oneself
Warning Signs of Self-harm
- Wearing long sleeves or pants more often than usual, especially in hot environments
- Scars, often in patterns
- Carrying around sharp objects
- Behavioral and emotional instability or unpredictability
- Fresh bite marks, bruises, cuts, or burns
- Difficulties in relationships with others
- Talk of feelings of being helpless, worthless, or hopeless
How to Get Help
Consider speaking to a loved one such as a parent or guardian or any adult figure that you trust. You can also reach out to a close friend or go speak to the guidance counselor at your school. Talking to someone about how you feel may alleviate some of the stress and feelings that you’re going through, which could in turn cause you to self-harm less or even stop. On a more professional level, you could make an appointment with your doctor, a psychologist, or even a therapist to talk and figure out what underlying conditions could be causing this. Remember that healthcare professionals are here to listen to you and provide you with the help and care that you need to get better. There is no shame in needing or asking for help.
How Can You Help
If someone you know is self-harming and you’re unsure of how to support them, try offering them judgment-free, listening ears and patience. Because a lot of people that struggle with self-harm feel alone and hopeless, offering support can help them to feel less alone.
Getting Emergency Help
Typically those that are self-harming are not harming in a way to cause serious injury or result in suicide, however, accidents can and do happen. If your injury is severe or you think it may be life threatening, dial 911 or your local emergency number. If you are seriously considering hurting someone else, yourself, or having thoughts of suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. You can also contact a suicide hotline and speak to someone so you are not alone. The number for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. that you can call or text is 988, which is available all 7 days of the week, 24 hours a day. The lifeline has a Spanish language phone line at 1-888-628-9454 and all hotlines are confidential and free so you can get the help and support you need.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as specific medical advice or practices endorsed by TGH Urgent Care. It is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized medical advice. If you are currently experiencing a medical emergency, it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention. We recommend visiting one of our nearest walk-in clinics, and to streamline your visit, we encourage you to utilize our convenient OnmyWay system, designed to save you time in line.