Self-Injury Awareness Day

CW // TW : self-harm, self-injury

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Self-injury awareness day (SIAD) is held on March 1st of every year and is an international event that is recognized all across the globe. The entire month of March is recognized as self-injury awareness month. Self-harm can be difficult to understand and due to this, many people react in a negative or judgmental way. Raising awareness about self-harm is incredibly important as it leads to community understanding and empathy, banishing stigma and judgement and reducing the number of people who may suffer in silence. In the current times we are living in, with isolation and depression/anxiety at an all-time high due to COVID-19, it is critical to understand why people may turn to self-harm and what to do if a loved one reaches out for help.


What is self-harm?

Self-harm is usually a sign that a person is having a tough time coping with their emotions. The term self-harm encompasses a variety of behaviors that may include but are not limited to cutting, scratching, burning, picking etc. People who self-harm may do so for some of the following reasons

  • To help manage unbearable emotions and symptoms

  • To help regain a sense of feeling (for those experiencing numbness)

  • To help relieve stress and pressure

  • To help feel in control

  • To reenact a trauma in an attempt to resolve it

  • To protect others from emotional pain


What Can You Do?

How you react if someone discloses their self-harm is extremely important. The news may distress you and you may feel overwhelmed with emotions. You may also feel confused, frustrated, guilty or sad. All of these emotions, plus so many more, are not only valid but common.


1. Don’t Panic- learning that someone you know or love has been or is currently self-harming can be a shock. Try not to panic or expect to be able to fix all their problems. Sometimes just being there and providing a safe and non-judgmental space is enough.

2. Listen- Allow the person to speak with interruption or judgement. For a lot of individuals who self-harm, self-harming is the only way they know how to express emotion. So for someone to open up to you about their self-harming behaviors is a huge breakthrough!

3. Help Them Find Support- Offer to help the individual find support in the area if they are open to it. Finding support options can be overwhelming for them and your assistance may be just what they need.

4. Be There For the Long Haul- Don’t expect a quick fix. Some people self-harm for years as a way of dealing with difficult emotions or situations. Most people don’t want to be defined by their self-harm, so keep on being a friend to them as normal too.

5. Look After Yourself- It’s important to look after yourself when helping a loved one who is self-harming. Recognizing the need to set boundaries on what you can offer and getting help for yourself is important.


If you or someone you know is struggling with self-harm, you can text the self-harm crisis hotline at 741741, or call 1-800-273-TALK(8255). You can also visit www.selfinjury.com for therapist referrals and tips for how to stop.


For more resources on self-harm, warning signs and ways to help please visit any of the following:


https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Self-harm


https://fervr.net/teen-life/how-do-i-help-someone-who-is-self-harming#:~:text=If%20someone%20opens%20up%20and%20tells%20you%20they,no%20one%20who%20will%20ever%20understand%20their%20struggles


https://www.lifesigns.org.uk/guidance-for-others/

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If you or someone you know is being hurt, we can help.   Call our 24/7 helpline/hotline: 908.453.4181 or 888.988.4033

The Mission of the Domestic Abuse & Sexual Assault Crisis Center is to help, serve, and advocate for those impacted by interpersonal violence, to be proactive regarding its prevention, and to create positive change.  DASACC is a registered 501(c)(3).

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