It’s all the internet’s fault
No it isn’t.
Self-harm has been kicking around much longer than the Internet. People have struggled to express how they feel or come to terms with difficulties since the dawn of time, not just post-www.
Here’s the thing: there are some very good sites out there (clue: you’re currently on one of them) that take the job of supporting and protecting people very seriously – that’s why we moderate your posts. We don’t do it to annoy you or because we want you to have to wait for a reply; we do it to make sure no one posts anything that could be pro-self-harm in nature – either words or pictures. We want this to be a community of people who support each other towards recovery, not a toxic environment pushing people to hurt even more.
There are, however, unregulated websites and mainstream forums that permit that stuff to happen. Those sites fuel self-harm and make it harder for those affected to enter recovery. They create a community where people feel they belong, but the underlying message isn’t one of recovery, but one of just accepting that self-harm is as good as life is going to get – THAT is the damaging message. THAT is what makes a website cross the line from helpful to dangerous.
It’s possible to engage in social media and the wider internet in general, without coming to any harm, and if you feel you’re getting involved with a site that is encouraging your self-harm to get worse, then tell someone. Do things in real life with the people who love you, rather than be online 24/7 – they may not always do a great job of understanding you, but the friends and family who genuinely care will only ever want to help and support you.
And when it comes to images of self-harm injuries? Our advice is that if you wouldn’t pin it up in your kitchen window, then don’t put it online. That goes for pictures generally; if you wouldn’t want your mum or your teacher seeing it then it’s fair to assume you probably shouldn’t be uploading it for total strangers. Stay safe – there’s only one of you.