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Self Harm
by Mel May 13th 2009, 06:21 AM

Article featured in Avatar - Volume 1, Issue 7 (December 2007).

Self Harm
by *xxjessxx*

Self harm is a technique that some people use to try and cope with the things that are going on in their lives at that time. For some people expressing how they feel through emotions is way to painful, so they choose to let this pain out in a physical way - by hurting themselves.

People who do this may feel angry, worthless, pathetic, frustrated, alone or depressed. Although these feelings make us feel and think all sorts of strange things, there is help out there, help that can really make a difference to someoneís life.

Am I alone?

If you are hurting yourself and you feel you are alone, you couldnít be further from the truth. Self harm is a lot more common than you really think. Although you may be ashamed and feel isolated from the world, you're not. There are people who really care and do want to help you. Would you believe that 3 young people self harm every hour, and 1 in 10 teenagers have self harmed by the age of 16? [1]

Reasons why people may do it:

There are many people who may start to self harm. A lot of people who start it are going through hard times in their life and need a way to let out their pain. Reasons some start could include:

o Bullying or discrimination.
o Losing someone close to them such as a parent, brother, sister or friend.
o Lack of love and affection or neglect by parents or carers.
o Physical or sexual abuse.
o A serious illness that affects the way they feel about themselves.
o Lack of self esteem or self worth.

Those are just a few reasons why young people start to hurt themselves. There are also other reasons such as just the pure stress and pressures of everyday life, pressures that can come from family, friends or school work. Young people may also feel as if they have to conform to peers who are also self harming, this may be to feel as if they ďfit inĒ.


There are lots of distractions that you can do to help prevent yourself from hurting yourself, here are just a few:

o Make Play-Doh or other clay models and cut or smash them.
o Throw ice into the bathtub or against a brick wall hard enough to shatter it.
o Break sticks.
o Put a finger into a frozen food (like ice cream) for a minute.
o Bite into a hot pepper or chew a piece of ginger root.
o Pick a subject and research it on the web.
o Draw on yourself with a red felt-tip pen.
o Try counting down slowly from 10 to 1
o Put a rubber band around your wrist and flick it lightly.
o Take a shower.
o Ride a bike fast and far.

For more ideas see the resources section at the end of this article.

Who can help me?

When you feel you are ready to get the help you deserve, there are lots of people out there who want and are there to help you through this.

There are lots of people in whom you can confide in, these can include:

o Teachers
o School counselors
o Doctors
o Family
o Youth workers
o Social workers

All of these people can help you and offer you help and support, but if you feel as if you canít open up and talk to anyone, there is lots of online support you can receive - TeenHelp being one of them.

Recovery story

Here is a story that may give inspiration to anyone that is in the process of recovery.

"Ok, so my story is pretty simple, I'm an ordinary girl, with an ordinary life. I suppose I had never particularly liked myself, but that wasn't so much of an issue. When I was about twelve everything in my life started to fall apart, I found out that I had a condition called alopecia, which meant that my hair fell out. Well some of it. I was desperate for no one to find out, because we had a uniform at school, I couldnít wear a hat, so I started to get bullied. Nothing awful, but it was the times that I wasn't bullied that were the worst, because I was always waiting.

I shut myself off from the world, I didnít want to feel the pain that they were trying to inflict on me. I knew that I was always a strong one, I couldn't cry, I couldn't get angry, people had to rely on me. So I started to self harm.

The cycle of self harm carried on, I didnít want anyone to know, I suppose that I had been an intermittent self harmer for about 3 to 4 years, when my friend found out. We decided together that I needed to tell someone; so I did. I told my teacher. Though I sometimes wish I hadn't, I know if I hadn't got it out in the open I never would have stopped.

Things got worse for a while after I told someone, because I couldn't bear people knowing. But it did get better. I decided that I was worth more than self harming, that the thing that I was trying to kill inside me wouldn't go away by hurting the outside. I had to tackle that monster in a new way because the old way only hurt him for a second, and each time I hurt he grew stronger.

I had to talk. I know that I will always be a self harmer, but that doesn't mean I have to hurt myself. I have power within myself to stop, and when I feel like I'm going to break, I ring someone, or I listen to music.

Finally I have found control, not in hurting myself, but in stopping. In finally saying no. Anyone can do it, but if you can't then you are NOT a failure. Just trust and know that you will one day find that you are too special to hurt yourself, and most importantly there is a way out. Never accept the lie that self harm is the only way."


[1] http://www.lcet.org/selfharm/
[2] http://www.selfharm.org.uk/information/default.aspa

Distractions and help

For more self harm distraction techniques have a look at these websites:

National Health Service
BBC Health
Self-Help: Organized and otherwise
Coping Skills
Mosaic Minds

For more information...

To find out a bit more information on self harm you can have a look at this website:

Young people and self harm

Last edited by Mel; April 4th 2010 at 08:04 AM.
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