Learning that a friend or family member is engaging in self-harm can be deeply upsetting. You may feel frightened for their safety and confused or angry about why they are doing this to themselves. For a long time, self-injurious behavior was wrongly categorized as “attention-seeking” behavior. On the contrary, most self-harm individuals go to great lengths to secretly and hide their wounds. If discovered, they often make excuses for their injuries. They may even ask you to keep their secret, but you should not. Your loved one must seek treatment from a self-harm treatment program as soon as possible. Harmony Hills can guide you on how to help. Contact us today at 855.494.0357.
Recognizing the Warning Signs of Self-Harm
Self-harm occurs when an individual intentionally injures themselves. Self-harm is most commonly associated with cutting, but it can take on many other forms, including head-banging, hitting, branding, burning, skin picking, and pulling out hair. The reasons people self-harm are varied, but commonly it is relied upon as a coping mechanism for emotional anguish, pain, and anger. Those who self-harm frequently report that it provides them with a sense of control over what is happening to them, especially for emotional, physical, or sexual abuse victims.
Self-harm can begin at any age but is more common in teenagers and young adults. Those who engage in self-injurious behaviors are stuck in a harmful cycle they are unsure how to break. The temporary relief they feel after self-harming is quickly replaced with feelings of guilt and shame that contribute to more emotional pain. The stigma associated with self-harm often furthers the reluctance to ask for help. If you suspect your loved one is self-harming, look for these warning signs:
- Wearing long sleeves and pants even in hot weather
- Withdrawing from friends and family or self-isolating at events
- Displaying significant emotional instability
- Struggling with interpersonal relationships
- Persistent expressions of low self-esteem and self-worth
- Frequent, unexplained injuries and excuses for their causes
Individuals who practice self-harm likely suffer from an underlying mental health issue and are more likely to struggle with substance abuse or addiction. Participation in a self-harm treatment program at Harmony Hills can provide the treatment your loved one needs and offer you support in your attempt to find them help. Contact us at 855.494.0357.
Suggestions for Helping Someone Who Self-Harms
When you suspect that a friend or family member is self-harming or has admitted that they are, it is critical to remember is that you are dealing with a struggling person who needs help. Even if their actions do not make sense to you or make you angry, stay calm, be supportive and tell them you want to help. At all costs, you should avoid judgment, as this will likely cause them to shut down or retreat further. Consider these suggestions for talking to your loved one in a compassionate and supportive way:
- Use open-ended questions to give them space to volunteer information
- Acknowledge their emotions and express understanding
- Do not ridicule their actions or dismiss their thoughts
- Be genuinely interested in understanding how they believe self-harm helps them
- Try to focus on understanding the triggers that precede self-harm, not the act itself
- Encourage them to seek treatment without giving ultimatums
Self-harm is a complex issue that cannot be fixed overnight. In most cases, individuals who self-harm have serious mental health issues often compounded by co-occurring substance use disorders. Their reliance on self-injurious behaviors as a coping mechanism makes them fearful of trying to exist without it. These are why it is crucial to seek professional help from a self-harm treatment program.
Harmony Hills Offers Help for Self-Harm
Treating self-harm takes time and hard work, but recovery is possible with Harmony Hills’ self-injurious treatment program. With the help of our team of clinical professionals, your loved one will learn to identify thoughts and emotions that trigger self-harm and learn and practice healthy coping skills. Contact us at 855.494.0357 to learn more.