Social Worker's Corner
March - Self-Injury
Self-injury, sometimes called self-harm, is any deliberate, non-suicidal behavior that inflicts physical injury to your body. Self-injury by itself isn't suicidal behavior. Self-injury is an attempt at instant relief from an emotional pain. Self-injury includes actions like cutting, burning, pulling hair out in clumps, breaking bones, scratching, bruising, and drinking something harmful. Self-injury is a coping mechanism used to give the person a feeling that they have control of a situation.
Ninety percent of self-harm starts in adolescence.
An estimated two million Americans purposefully cut or burn themselves.
1. Don’t get angry or disgusted. Negativity alienates the person, and giving ultimatums only pushes the person further away from you.
2. Don’t deny the problem. It's not a fad, social statement or a phase he/she will grow out of.
3. Don’t hide sharp objects. If the person wants to self-injure, he/she will find a way.
4. Don’t judge the severity of the injury as an indicator of the level of emotional pain. Someone with scratches may have deeper emotional pain than someone with deep cuts.
5. Don’t assume the person is okay once in treatment. Recovery from self-injury can take months, maybe even years.
1. Stay calm. Freaking out won't solve anything. It will just close all lines of communication.
2. Talk. Be supportive and non-judgmental. Ask "Why are you doing this to yourself?"
3. Take the problem seriously. It's not about attention-seeking or a growing pain.
4. Seek treatment. With their permission, accompany the person to the doctor or counselor.
5. Find the triggers. Focus on the underlying problems.
6. Trust the person. Self-injury is just a small part of the person.