Self Harm

Good morning radiant Jumbos!

I hope this unseasonably mild February weather is lifting your spirits (and I’m sure the countdown to Spring Break hasn’t hurt either :p).

This week’s post is about something that is, unfortunately, extremely common among college students: self harm. According to healthyplace.com, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self harm every year.  Approximately 50% of people engaging in self harm began around the age of 14 and continued into their 20’s.  The most common self harm behaviors are cutting, burning, picking at scabs to prevent healing, and intentionally hitting and bruising oneself.

If you know someone who is self harming there are a couple of important things to keep in mind as you try to help them.  Number one: look into getting them professional help.  You, a student, are not trained to properly help someone who is self harming, nor should it be entirely your responsibility.  You have to look out for your mental health too. Number two: if they are opening up to you about their experience, recognize that self harm is a coping tool for another emotional issue, so don’t appear shocked, or worse disgusted, at their behavior. They are in pain, and deserve compassion.  Number three: try not to let them recount their self harm behavior in too much detail.  This can trigger them.

If you are dealing with self harm, below are some tips for managing it.

  1. Remember that you have immense worth.
  2. Recognize that self harm is a coping mechanism for a deeper issue, and addressing this issue will help you heal.
  3. If you feel the urge to self harm, find a less damaging alternative.  For example, drawing on your arm with a red marker, or hitting a pillow.  This is not a permanent solution, but it is a good intermediate strategy as you heal.
  4. Finding distractions is also useful.  When you feel like self harming, do something good for yourself, like taking a walk, or a bath, or coloring.  Learning to turn self destructive urges into self care is very important.
  5. Know that it’s ok to ask for help.  You aren’t in this alone.

 

“Other times, I look at my scars and see something else: a girl who was trying to cope with something horrible that she should never have had to live through at all. My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.”  — Cheryl Rainfield

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