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Stigma Regarding Self-Harm

There may be a bigger light shone down on mental health awareness these days, but the stigma on self-harm and mental health is still very much there. It’s critical that in today’s day and age, we continue to openly discuss mental health and find new ways to provide assistance and support.

One of the biggest signs of mental health issues is self-harm. Non-suicidal self-injury is the act of a person harming their own body with cuts, burns, or other injurious behavior that isn't meant as a way to end their life. It is, however, a harmful outlet that some people still choose to help them cope with the mental health issues that plague them, such as emotional pain, anger, and stress. Self-harm is not a healthy or advisable way to cope, but for some who engage in these types of behaviors, it may seem as if it’s bringing them a sense of calm and temporary relief, even though it’s highly detrimental to their physical health. It is also usually followed by shame, guilt, and the return of those painful emotions that brought about the behavior in the first place. Life-threatening injuries are not the intent of someone who is self-harming, but if the wrong area is hurt, it can happen.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding self-harm, but its prevention could save a life. With proper treatment, self-harming individuals can get the help they need to healthily cope with their conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the important things to note about self-injurious behavior.

Self-Harming Doesn't Always Mean Suicidal

It’s very important to be aware of this. Pressing a sharp object onto the skin or burning it doesn't always mean the person engaging in it wants to end their life. Self-harming is often felt as a release for those who do it; it may give them a false sense of control, as if only they can determine the level of hurt that they are subjected to.

It’s important to note that, unfortunately, self-harming comes in many forms, which also includes  the overindulgence of alcohol or using illicit drugs. Self-harming behavior of any kind is dangerous and can be addictive to an individual, making it imperative that interventions and professional help are administered quickly.

The Actual Term is Self-Explanatory: Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

People who harm their bodies may not want to die. In some cases, they may have researched how they can hurt themselves without fatality. The actual term for self-harm is non-suicidal self-injury, which is self-explanatory.

Finding any way out from the pain can often mean turning inwards - in this case, outwards - but without hurting another person. A person who turns to self-harm only hurts themselves because they don't want to harm anyone else, and they don't want to die. They may, however, feel like they are deserving of pain and injury. They may feel that the best thing that they can do is gain false, short-term euphoria by engaging in physically harmful behaviors. These individuals need to be reminded that they are worthy of both love and help.

Why Do People Self-Harm if They Don't Want to Die?

Suicide is very final. People who are self-harming are screaming out for help but they don't want their lives to end; they just want the pain they may be feeling to stop. They might want to feel the physical pain as a projection of what they feel on the inside, but they don't want to end their life.

Another reason for self-harm is the distraction it might seem to provide. It’s a method that those who do it may employ to forget about any painful emotions that bubble to the surface, but they often don't engage in these behaviors for attention, either. Self-harm in this context is also rarely a suicidal attempt.

There are several reasons that people self-harm, even if they don't want to die. For some, it’s seen as a relief from the pain they are feeling inside, and for others, it’s the experience of a mental health disorder that compels them to think that self-harm is the best possible coping mechanism there is. Some of the reasons behind self-harming behavior include:

  • Trouble at home
  • Problems in social relationships
  • Pressures at school
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Bullying
  • Low self-esteem

Self-Harm May Seem Like It’s Offering Relief, But It’s Unhealthy

The last thing to consider is that self-harming behavior may feel like a relief to those who do it - albeit temporarily. There’s a physical internal pain when stress is bottled up, but seeing a wound may make a self-harming individual feel distracted from their problems. The issue is that this dangerous behavior can become a cycle, and the pain will usually always come back because self-harm doesn't ever address the root cause of the person’s troubles.

The best thing for someone to do if they are engaging in self-harmful behavior is to seek help. Places such as Jackson House are able to offer self-harming individuals professional and care-driven assistance. Contact us today to get started on your journey to recovery.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

It's time to feel better

We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.

If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.