August 17, 2020

Jem Fundano

'I Want To Self-Harm' : The Urges and The Facts

10% of teenagers have self-harm wounds. This means that for every secondary-school classroom, at least two teens harm themselves. Most adults have had a history of self-harm. But, despite how common it is, self-harm is still a controversial topic.

Many controversial myths surround self-harm. Some say it's a step below a suicide attempt. Others say that it's a person's way to cope through stressful events. These myths are why it's important to promote self-harm awareness.


When you act and harm yourself, that's self-harm. Self-harm wounds can range from scars through cutting, a stomach needed to be pumped due to overdose, or burn marks.

The WHO defined 'Violence' as "the intentional use of physical force or power." This means that violence isn't only about harming others. It can be self-directed too. Self-harm is a form of violence towards your own body.


If you struggle in harming yourself, currently, you may be thinking, "I want to self-harm." You think it's an impulse, but it's a cycle. It's an unhealthy coping behavior.

It starts as a way to distract yourself or unconsciously punish yourself. For people looking on the outside, it's hard to make sense of it. Those who don't self-harm conclude that it's an irrational or attention-seeking behavior. For those who inflict self-harm wounds, it's a way for them to cope.

For you, inflicting self-harm wounds may give you temporary relief. That's a reason why you have the urge to do it. After giving you comfort, you then feel guilt and shame about it. You tell yourself that 'it's not normal' and engage in a shame-spiral. Because of relief being temporary, it fades. You feel the negative emotions again so, you then inflict harm to yourself. It becomes your usual way of dealing with stressful events.

This cycle is an unhealthy coping response. And, it's important to learn new coping strategies so you can deal with stressful events healthily.


It's reported that inflicting self-harm wounds commonly starts around the age of 12. Most of the people who engage in self-harm have had a tough life. Those at risk are affected by factors like their family setting, their community, how they sexually identify, or a mental health disorder.

As self-harm is violence towards self, women are more likely to engage in self-harm activities than men. It's estimated that a ratio of five to six teen girls self-harm compared to boys. It's also researched that self-harm is hard to view as violence because it's prominently seen in women.

With that, we identify violence to be overtly aggressive -- like brawls, fistfights, gunfights-- whereas women are considered as 'the gentle sex,' so it disqualifies self-harm as 'violent.' This view waters down self-harm for what it is -- which is a violent act.

Self-harm has been negatively stereotyped. If people see your self-harm wounds, you're at risk of being judged or misunderstood. That's why some hide it, and they silently suffer.

What people usually think about self-harm is wrong. It's not your way to seek attention; it's not a 'goth' thing; it's not for girls only; it's not 'fun'; it's not because you're suicidal.

Self-harm is an unhealthy coping response. While it's a 'common' response, it's important to highlight that it's unhealthy. That's why you must undergo interventions to replace it with another healthy coping response.

Self-harm can also be associated with mental health problems or disorders. These can range from borderline personality disorder, depressive disorders, to other mental disorders. But, it can also occur outside these contexts.

So, if you've been harming yourself, it's important to seek professional help. Shame usually surrounds topics like 'self-harm,' which is why it's hidden or kept private. But, you must find someone you can talk to about this. Unhealthy coping responses should be replaced with healthy ones. If you're struggling to open up, a mental health professional can be of help. They are there for you, and they hold the information you give as confidential.

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