Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Maybe you've been out somewhere and have seen someone in passing, or even a friend, or a co-worker with a bandage on their arm/wrist, or have seen visible scars branding someone's body that seem like they were deliberately placed.  Maybe the thought has crossed your mind "Why would anyone want to cut themselves?"  

Self-harm doesn't just affect one's body, but also their mind, and spirit.  It also just isn't about someone cutting themselves to feel pain or trying to escape life.

In fact, those who participate in self-harm, are often looking to feel better.  Those who are searching this feeling get a "high" from having the power & control over their mind and body, and it can feel euphoric, releasing certain endorphins.  Those who self-harm aren't always looking to end their lives, but in certain situations, this can be their reason for self-harm.  There are also tragic "overdoses" of self-harm where one can accidentally end their lives.

Self-harm doesn't just fall into cutting.  There are many methods people use, and can often move from one to another when that high isn't attainable anymore.

  • Cutting (often with razor blades, scissors or glass)
  • Burning
  • Hitting
  • Scratching or picking at skin
  • Hair pulling
  • Inserting objects into body
Behaviours also considered as self-harm:
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drug addiction
  • Food (binge eating or starvation)
  • Sex (many partners, unprotected)
Why does someone indulge in self-harm?  There is something in that person's life that is leading them to feel like they need to do this to themselves.  A traumatic experience (past or present), lack of coping skills, difficult relationships, financial woes, death of a family member or friend, battling a mental health disorder, battling a physical disability, issues academically, dealing with sexuality, abusive relationships (emotionally and physically), being bullied, and having issues at work.  There may also be psychological reasons that someone self-harms, such as hearing voices, repeated thoughts of doing it, forcing you to act upon to make the thoughts go away, and it could be a symptom of a borderline personality disorder.  This list is certainly not exhaustive as anything can trigger someone to want to self-harm.  T

How does someone get over the urge to do this to themselves?  Well there are many ways, but it takes time, effort and the person's own desire to stop.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - helps to identify unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors by slowly introducing them, and learning to cope with healthy & positive skills
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy - a brand of CBT (above) that teaches behavioral skills to help tolerate distress, manage or regulate emotions and improve relationships
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy - focuses on identifying past experiences, hidden memories or interpersonal issues at the root of emotional difficulties through self-examination guided by a therapist (source Mayo Clinic)
  • Medications - while there are no meds to treat self-harming behavior, a doctor may prescribe antidepressants or other medications to help treat a mental health disorder surrounding the self-harm behavior
If you or someone you know are self-harming, your first step to recovery is to confide in someone you trust.  If you can't confide in someone who is close to you just yet, you can call to talk to one of our amazing volunteers, at any time of day or night. 


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