What Is Self-Harm?
Self-Harm occurs when a person who may or may not have depression tries to intentionally hurt their body, this could be anything from trying to cut their arms or overdosing on tablets. Some, not all, sufferers of depression attempt self-harm and often are crying out for help and support, not just because they want their life to end. People who self-harm may try it because they are scared, lonely, low in self-esteem, having trouble or not see a way out of their thoughts.
The NHS advises that if you are self-harming, you should see your GP for help. You can also call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for support or visit the website of Mind (a mental health charity) for further advice.
Your GP will usually offer to refer you to healthcare professionals at a local community mental health service for further assessment. This assessment will result in your care team working out a treatment plan with you.
Why Do People Try Self-Harming?
Self-harm can sometimes occur for help. Those who try self-harm may have been in need and not received any help or support from anybody, so they may feel alone, isolated and unwanted.
Bullying can cause people to self-harm, bullying often is a reason behind people trying to self-harm as those who try often feel attacked and low in mood and confidence, they see ending their life as an option.
Having difficult relationships also can cause self-harm to occur, as can depression, illnesses and trauma, there are many other triggers too, that can cause self-harm to happen. Traumas may need counselling immediately, so it is vital to get support or ask somebody close to you to get this support for you.
It is important to make them know that they are not alone and that you around for them.
One of our tips to help a person who tries to self-harm or attempt suicide is to offer them support, be it support of listening or support of guiding and supporting them through their life. It can sometimes seem that life is a great burden and hard to live with, this is where suicide results. Suicide can often be prevented by having someone close to support you. Of course, this isn’t always the case and sadly people commit suicide after not feeling understood or being bullied.
Remember that many who try suicide or self-harm do not actually want to die, they just want to be part of something and included. Seeking professional help also should be encouraged, self-harming should be helped by a G.P immediately, discussing concerns with your G.P may result in support being arranged.
Help Guide suggests taking these steps in helping suicide prevention.
- Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
- Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
- Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.
- Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
- If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.
- Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”
- Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
- Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
- Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.
- Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.
Common Suicide Risk Factors Of Suicide
- Mental illness;
- Alcoholism or drug abuse;
- Previous suicide attempts;
- Family history of suicide;
- Terminal illness or chronic pain;
- Recent loss or stressful life event;
- Social isolation and loneliness;
- History of trauma or abuse;
Low Risk- Some suicidal thoughts, no plan and says he/she won’t commit suicide
Moderate Risk- Suicidal thoughts, small plan in place, but again says he/she won’t commit suicide.
High Risk- More Suicidal thoughts, specific plan in action but denies wanting to take action.
Severe Risk- A large amount of Suicidal thoughts, plan in action to commit suicide and says he/she will commit suicide.