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Teenage Self Harm

Teenage Self Harm
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Cummings, E. E., (1971) Six Nonlectures. Antheneum, New York

... remember one thing only: that it's you - nobody else - who determine your destiny and decide your fate. Nobody else can be alive for you nor can you be alive for anyone else.

The most common reasons given by pupils for deliberate self harm were 'to find relief from a terrible state of mind' or because they had 'wanted to die'. Contrary to popular belief few were 'trying to frighten someone' or simply 'get attention'.

  • The majority of those who self-harm cut themselves.

  • Girls are nearly four times more likely to self-harm than boys.

  • The most common reason given was 'to find relief from a terrible situation,' the least common reason was 'to get my own back.'

  • up to half of those who self-harm seek help from friends before acting.

This page of mine was first written back in the early 2000s. So much supportive information is now available on line. You would be more informed, now, by going to MIND/Self Harm

However I would like you to read through this information...

Websites Useful organisations National Self-harm Network (NHSN) PO Box 7264, Nottingham NG1 6WJ email: Supports survivors and people who self-harm YoungMinds 102-108 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5SA parents information service: 0800 018 2138 For anyone concerned about a childs mental health The Basement Project PO Box 5, Abergavenny, Wales NP7 5XW tel. 01873 856 524 Publications, groups and workshops for people who self-harm British Red Cross 9 Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EJ tel. 020 7235 5454, web: Free training in camouflaging scars Mindinfoline tel. 0845 766 0163 Mind is the leading mental health organisation in England andWales, providing a unique range of services. MindinfoLine is Minds helpline and information service. Contact them for details of Local Mind Associations NAPAC 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3NH helpline: 0800 085 3330, National information service for people abused in childhood. Survivors UK 16 Swan Court, 9 Tanner Street, London SE1 3LE helpline: 0845 122 1201, For men who have experienced any form of sexual violence Bristol Crisis Service for Women PO Box 654, Bristol BS99 1XH helpline: 0117 925 1119 Helpline for women, with a focus on self-harm Threshold Women and Mental Health Helpline 14 St George's Place, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4GB helpline: 0845 3000 911, email: Information line for women with mental health problems Hearing Voices Network (HVN) c/o Sheffield Hearing Voices Network, Limbrick Day Service, Limbrick Road, Sheffield, S6 2PE Runs local self-help-groups British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) BACP House, 35-37 Albert Street, Rugby CV21 2SG tel. 0870 443 5252, minicom: 0870 443 5162 email: See web or send A5 SAE for details of practitioners in your area

What does it mean to self-harm?

Self-injury, such as cutting or burning yourself, is a way of expressing very deep distress. Often people dont know why they self-harm. Its a means of communicating what you cant put into words or even into thoughts, and has been described as expressing an inner scream. Afterwards, you may feel able to cope with life again, for a while.

We all have times when we behave self-destructively. We may not recognise it, because we are doing perfectly ordinary activities, such as smoking or overeating. People often overwork, for example, to try and lose themselves and avoid being alone with their thoughts and feelings.

Why do some people self-harm?

Self-harming behaviour is a way of dealing with unbearable feelings. These feelings are released through the body, where they can be seen and dealt with. You may be overwhelmed by painful emotions, such as rage, sadness, emptiness, grief, self-hatred, fear, or guilt. Injuring yourself may help you cope in a number of different ways. It may be a way of getting the pain out, distracting yourself from it, communicating how you are feeling, or of finding comfort from someone else. It may be a way of punishing yourself, or of attempting to get some control over your life.

Self-harming behaviour is common, but not well understood. Although statistics are misleading, because people are often unwilling to admit to injuring themselves, the numbers seem to be rising. Its a problem that affects more women than men (except in the prison population) and tends to involve more young people. A significant number of people who self-harm come from minority groups, who are discriminated against within society.

Young people

Young people often feel und r great pressure from their family, school and peer group to conform or to excel. If theres no chance of living up to these expectations, even high achievers may express their anger through aggression and destructiveness. Others may express feelings of powerlessness and lack of self-worth in the same way.

Is self-harming behaviour attention-seeking?

Self-harm is often treated with mistrust or fear and described as attention-seeking and manipulative behaviour, because it can be hard to understand.

Its important to remember that a person who is self-harming may be using the only way they can to communicate their plight to other people, and to try and get the attention, care and comfort they need. However upsetting it may be for you, it doesnt necessarily mean the persons intention is to upset you.

What makes people start to self-harm?

You may harm yourself once or twice, when dealing with a particularly difficult time or difficult feelings, and never do so again. But self-harming can sometimes become a regular way of coping with life on a monthly, weekly, or even a daily basis, in some circumstances. This is because it becomes a way of dealing with problems in the present, not just in the past. It may be triggered by something that reminds you of feelings from the past, such as an anniversary or a particular event, which sets off a hidden memory. Sometimes, it can start because something out of the ordinary happens to shake you up. It could also be that the circumstances of your ordinary life are so difficult that self-harm is the only way you can cope.

What help can I get?

If your experiences have been so painful that you needed to deal with your emotions by hurting yourself, you may now seriously doubt whether you can deal with them in any other way. But people do move forward, to grieve over a lost childhood and work through the fear and confusion surrounding it. With the aid of plenty of support they learn that they can cope with the pain, anger and rage, which have to surface. The important thing is to find ways to start talking to someone you trust. It could be to a friend, a family member, a professional counsellor, a psychologist or a psychotherapist.

What can I do to help myself?

Learn about yourself

Knowledge is power. Gather as much information as possible about your own behaviour. Keep notes of what is going on when you feel the need to harm yourself, so that you can identify, over a period of time, specific thoughts which come up. Its also useful to keep a daily diary recording events and feelings. Powerful emotions of happiness, anger or pain can be difficult to deal with. Its helpful to record how you cope with and channel these.

Treat yourself well

Stay within safe limits. If you are cutting yourself, use something clean, and preferably sterile, which hasn't been used by other people.

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