Self-harm affects millions of people worldwide and is largely prevalent in Suffolk with higher than average statistics. Unfortunately self-harm is still a ‘taboo’ subject which carries much weight when the word is used. I think, like suicide, self-harm is something people are afraid to speak about with fear from ‘planting ideas’ or ‘reinforcing self-harming feelings’. However, this is not the case. By speaking about self-harm we are slowly creating a safe environment for those people to come forward and discuss how they are feeling. In order to provide the best support we need to be comfortable in discussing self-harm as to ensure the person feels safe and understood.
But how do we support someone who is self-harming?
Do not be judgemental
Offer your support; make sure they know you are there for them
Do not treat them as a ‘self-harmer’ they are still a whole person
Remind them of their self-worth
Offer to help find extra support
Reassure them that they aren’t alone
Be honest – this person has confided in you and you should return the honesty
How do I get help if I am self-harming?
Reaching out – discussing your self-harm with someone can trigger a feeling of relief and reduce worries and fears. You can reach out without parting with information you are uncomfortable with sharing.
Reaching out – if you feel uncomfortable reaching out to family members, friends, GP or tutors you can always call the Samaritans who can offer advice and support via the phone (please see our contacts list at the end of this section)
Self-help – there are many ways you are able to help yourself if the above methods aren’t suitable for you.
Learning to recognise patterns can enable you to break the self-harm cycle by putting in other coping strategies before the urge to self-harm becomes unmanageable – keeping a diary is a great way to understand your patterns better.
Identify distractions that work for you – you can create a table of distractions which you can refer to when you are feeling the urge to self-harm.
Delaying self-harm: waiting minutes before acting on your urges shows you that you are able to delay your self-harming. Practicing this allows you to build up the delay time resulting in a better grip on your self-harm
How do I get help whilst supporting someone who is self-harming?
Firstly you have to ensure you are looking after your own wellbeing – keeping boundaries allows you to support this person with reducing the impact it can have on you
Reach out – you can discuss the support you are providing whilst still maintaining the confidentiality you may have promised the person who is self-harming. It is important to discuss any impacts you are experiencing.