He punches the wall repeatedly after tanking his presentation, fracturing his hand, but he won’t see a doctor; he thinks he deserved it.
She picks her scabs raw, marveling at how numb she feels, refusing to let them heal.
He bites his nails to the quick and until they bleed, not out of habit but to secretly relish the throbbing pain.
Coaches suspect abuse – she comes with deep bruises time and again after a team loss – sometimes with band aids on her wrists. No one has touched her, though, save herself.
March 1, for nearly 20 years, has been recognized internationally as Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD).
Self-injury is a dangerous coping mechanism to channel the distress of personal circumstance into physical pain. Girls, guys, celebrities, professionals and parents all around us are injuring themselves privately, to purportedly alleviate the pressure building internally.
Cutting, the most notorious form of self-injury, is reportedly on the rise again.
The facts about self-injury
A World Health Organization collaborative report in 2014 quantified a nearly 70 percent increase in self-injury across English preteens polled, compared to previous poll results. Up to 1 in 5 15-year-olds polled reported purposefully cutting, burning or biting themselves.
And these numbers only reflect the ones brave enough to answer the query.
Apparently, comparative data from other countries doesn’t exist, as England is the first to ask students on a broad scale about self-harm.
To be clear, nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as its own disorder. NSSI is when people purposefully hurts themselves physically without the intent of committing suicide. Self-harm is the umbrella, which includes harm by consuming dangerous substances, pulling out one’s own hair, eating disorders and self-injury among other harmful actions to oneself.
Those who self-injure have reported effects that mirror those of addiction:
- Continuing the behavior despite negative consequences to themselves
- An immediate sensation of calm or “numbing”
- Fixation on self-injury to the exclusion of other activities
- Compulsion to do more to get the same effect
Industry professionals are still undecided if the behavior is psychological, physiological or merged in a type of parasitic relationship on its host.
What not to say to a cutter
No matter how extroverted or seemingly powerful someone may seem outwardly, people who self-injure are emotionally fragile and in need of support and rehabilitation from mentally unhealthy thought processes. It’s crucial to avoid the following statements in communication with a self-injurer:
- “Why are you trying to kill yourself?”
- “Haven’t you been cutting the wrong way?”
- “You’re just doing this for attention; you’re not serious.”
- “You’re crazy,” or “You’ve got problems.”
Everyone has problems. The difference is essentially and most seriously in how we deal with them. Asking open-ended questions with no knee-jerk judgment and encouraging therapeutic rehabilitation can be unpretentious first steps toward intervention.
Organizations that bring awareness to self-injury encourage loved ones and recovering self-injurers to drown the stigma of the NSSI by educating those in your circle. Sharing a post, testimony or story about what you know of self-injury, dispelling myths and providing resources will bring awareness and give alternatives to the self-harming soul who’s lost in disorder.
According to the Self-injury Foundation, the takeaway from SIAD is that impulses within oneself or a loved one to self-injure are clues someone doesn’t want to deal with something or feel particular emotions. The saving grace they say is to stay calm and identify those triggers, get help to face one’s fears about certain emotions.
The Sovereign Health Group has emerged as a nationwide leader in mental health rehabilitation from psychological disorder, addiction, dual diagnosis and eating disorders. We are a hub of doctors, therapists, alternative therapy experts and residential attendant’s all dedicated to tailoring treatment to each individual for lasting recovery. If you see the impulse in yourself or another, call Sovereign and let us help you feel again – healthily, wholly and unscathed.
About the author
Sovereign Health Group staff writer Kristin Currin is a mindful spirit swimming in metaphysical pools with faith as her compass. Her cover: a 30s-something Cinderella breadwinner of an all-sport blended family. Her repertoire includes writing poetry, lifestyle articles and TV news; editing, radio production and on-camera reporting. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.