TRIGGER WARNING: SELF-HARM
I feel that all over the internet there are articles to help people who deal with self-harm deal with their struggle. It’s good to try deal with problems independently, but difficult to do it alone. That’s why we all need friends to help us on our way! But self-harm is a very difficult subject to tackle, let alone talk about. I want to help people try to help friends with their issues, because finding out your friend self-harms is a terrible things – you just want them to be happy.
The first step is to understand self-harm itself. There are a variety of reasons of why people start and continue. It’s main use is a coping mechanism to handle emotions. Some find the sight of blood relaxing, whilst others use the physical pain to “numb” the emotional. Others often self-harm as a form of punishment if they do something bad. The most well-known method to self-harm is cutting – this is typically thought of to be done on the wrists or forearm, but it is not limited to other areas of the body such as shoulders, hips and legs. Other methods include, but are not limited to, punching, biting, scratching and burning. If your friend self-harms, ask what method they use if you feel comfortable to – but it may not be a good idea to ask why they do it. They may wish to keep this private or it might even trigger them just thinking about it.
On the topic of triggers, it may also be a good idea to ask your friend their triggers. This is very helpful as it can help you avoid hurting your friend accidently – a littlest joke to you might mean a terrible insult to them. A friend who self-harms (or even feels unhappy at all) needs a lot of support through their trying time, and insults build-up to emotionally hurt them a lot. Make sure you let your friend know you care, and avoid triggers.
It’s also a good idea to try offer alternatives or help. Counselling, therapy or even a doctor will help your friend – but don’t put them out of their comfort zone, unless it’s a real emergency. There are many alternatives to self-harm too. This can be done through similar feeling but non-harmful ways (writing short stories or poems, destroying things) or calming methods (warm baths, spending time with family or friends, cuddling a blanket).
Some people try to take away the weapon used to self-harm. There are advantages and disadvantages to this – though it may be an effort to help your friend stop and it may work, there’s also a chance that it could continue if they have multiple methods or they use something else. I would prefer not to mention who, but I knew somebody who had their weapon taken away – a broken pen – and actually started using a more lethal weapon – a pair of scissors.
Just look after your friend through their dark time, but don’t forget to look after yourself too!
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The articles here are written by guest writers or previous TWE members.