Self-Injury Awareness Day

1.3.13



I've been aware of the concept of self-harm and all the issues that surround it for so much of my life that I sometimes forget it's not something that everyone knows about or understands.

Today is Self-Injury Awareness Day, used by people across the globe to try and raise awareness and empathy, to get rid of fear and judgement, and to reduce the number of people who have to struggle alone.

Here are some facts to get us started:

Those who self-injure need their behaviours to be met not with shock, repulsion or judgement, but with empathy, support and guidance towards finding the tools to work through and express their underlying problems through safer, healthier means.


With such high rates of prevalence, it's more than likely that you know someone who struggles with self-injury. It's difficult to know how to help, but there are some brilliant resources out there:

Books:


1. 'Cutting' by Steven Levenkron (It feels almost mandatory to cite Levenkron's book, being one of those landmark pieces of work, but in all honesty it's quite outdated now.)
2. 'A Bright Red Scream' by Marilee Strong
3. 'Secret Scars' by V.J. Turner (This focuses specifically on self-injury as an addiction, which brings a different perspective and set of insights.) 
4. 'The Path to Recovery' by Kate Middleton
5. 'Inside A Cutter's Mind' by Jerusha Clark (According to the reviews I've just read, this is written from a Christian perspective, yet it stuck in my mind for being very scientific!)


There are literally thousands of other books on the subject, some more worthy of a read than others. I've put the few that I've read (including fiction, biography and other non-fiction) on one Shelfari shelf for reference.


Websites:
Some organisations whose focus is specifically on self-injury:
  • LifeSigns - an online voluntary organisation - one of the originals. Provides resources for the person self-injuring, for those who know them, and for professionals.
  • National Self-Harm Network - online information as well as a freephone helpline.
  • Recover Your Life - an online community of support.
  • Selfharm.co.uk - Probably one of the best services out there - they provide information; training materials to explore the issue of self-injury in schools and youth groups; and an online space for young people to share their story and express themselves safely.

There are other organisations whose focus is broader, but who have some really excellent information and resources on self-injury:

    Helplines:
    For immediate help - i.e. if someone has badly injured themselves - your local A&E should always be your first point of call. Your GP can point towards longer-term help and support. Beyond that, talking can really help and these people are trained to know what they're talking about:


    Self-injury can be a huge and daunting issue to be faced with.

    If someone you know is struggling, the best you can do is listen, love and lend your support. It's easy to feel helpless, but by listening non-judgmentally you're already helping them take the first step. Read some of the information available in books and online, but don't carry it on your own shoulders and never be afraid to reach out for more tangible, situation-specific support.

    And if you yourself are struggling? Know that you are not alone and that you can move forwards in your life. Talk to someone. Find help. You do deserve a healthier, happier life.


    Today is Self-Injury Awareness Day. Let's spread the word.

    1 comment:

    1. I read this post soon after you put it up, and have thought of it often in the past weeks. Well done for writing so clearly and encouragingly about it.

      I remember once having a student come see me, with a summer top on and very obvious scars on her wrists and forearms. It was hard not to have to take a sharp intake of breath, but I reflected that her scars were merely visible signs of the sorrow, frustration, despair (etc.) that loads of other people have and keep hidden.

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