March is Self-Injury Awareness Month.
It’s important to understand that self-harm or self-injury does not involve a conscious intent to die by suicide – and as such, the clinical term for this behavior is called Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI). NSSI can take many forms from cutting, picking, burning, bruising, puncturing, embedding, scratching, or hitting one’s self, just to name a few.
In its simplest form, NSSI is a physical solution to an emotional wound.
If you are worried about a loved one, let them know and talk about it with them.
Generally, it is a deliberate, private act that is habitual in occurrence, not attention-seeking behavior, nor meant to be manipulative. Self-injurers are often secretive about their behaviors, rarely letting others know, and often cover up their wounds with clothing, bandages, or jewelry.
If you are ready to help now, here are some suggestions.
By listening, you can begin to understand what is happening and why. Be open to hearing what is happening without judgement, and with respect.
Talk about it
Let them know you are there for them. You might find it hard to understand, but you can support them. Be realistic; self-harming can take a while to stop. Encourage them when you notice that they have coped with difficult things without self-harming and help them to achieve the goals they set for themselves.
Take care of yourself
It can be overwhelming and at times distressing to know someone you care about is self-harming. To look after others, you need to also look after yourself – try to get enough sleep, keep fit and healthy, and seek your own support from friends or professionals.
If you would like to learn more about recognizing signs and symptoms of friends or family members, you can register for an upcoming mental health awareness training class below.