Today, March 1st, is National Self Harm Awareness Day, and during this month, we will continue to focus on this awareness.
Self harm can affect anyone - any age, gender, race, culture, religion. We all probably know of someone who self harms, and it seems to be becoming increasingly common. But with this comes misunderstanding. There has certainly been more awareness of self harm in recent years, but this still hasn’t stamped out the stigma of it and misconceptions people have of it.
Therefore, this month, we at SelfharmUK are going to be focused on busting some of the myths surrounding self harm.
Some of these myths and misconceptions might be:
- It’s only teenagers who self harm
- People who self harm are attention seeking
- Only girls self harm
- Self harm only involves cutting
- Self harm is easy to stop
- Self harm is a suicide attempt
- Anyone who self injures is crazy and should be locked up
- Self harm is a phase and something you just grow out of
- People only self harm if they’ve had a really bad life
This year we have teamed up with Childline, YouthNet/Get Connected and Youngminds again, to research and gather information from almost 1000 parents of children/young people up to the age of 24, as well as 3800 young people up to the age of 24 who self harm.
This research showed that 67% of parents believe that young people struggling with self harm should go to them for support, whereas only 16% of young people who self harm would choose to talk to their parents, and only 27% would talk to their doctor. It was found that instead, young people would rather turn to their friends (61%) or online (76%) to find support.
Research also found that 39% of parents thought one of the main reasons a young person engages in self harm was for ‘seeking attention’, whereas 80% of young people expressed they did not want other people thinking that they were attention seeking when asked what they wanted people to know about self harm.
This just highlights the gap in understanding around self harm. These won’t be the only unbalanced percentages when it comes to those who self harm and those who don’t. There is clearly a difference between what others think compared to what those who struggle actually think, which gives us all the more reason to bust a myth and offer an insight into the subject of self harm.
It can become very hard to open up about the struggles of self harm when there are all of these myths and misconceptions out there, and although awareness is growing, perceptions still need to change.
Throughout this month, we will also be sharing people’s experiences with self harm, and how myths around self harm have affected them in their journey. We will also be providing helpful information around areas such as triggers, alternatives, and finding the courage speaking up about self harm, whether that be to a parent, GP, friend or person you look up to, and vice versa, the best ways to respond to a young person telling you they self harm.
Telling someone you are self harming can be a very daunting thing, but the good news is, even with these myths and misconceptions out there, there are still people who want to help, regardless of what they understand about self harm. You are not alone in this. Maybe, on this day, you could make the decision to take that first step and reach out for the support you deserve! Maybe raise awareness by starting a conversation with someone about self harm. Maybe encourage someone you know who is struggling to find the help they need. Let's continue to break the silence surrounding self harm!