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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Self Injury Awareness Day

Self Injury Awareness Day occurs every year on March 1st. It is an international event that is recognized across the globe. Raising awareness is important as it will lead to understanding and empathy. Fear of other judging leads to those who suffer with the desire to self injury to keep it behind closed doors.

Thirty years ago I had a good friend who confided in me that they "hurt" their self. They would when ever under stress cut their selves or do something else. They believed that the pain they suffered some how took the shame and stress away from other areas. Soon after we talked and I listened she talked to her parents and got some help. The thing is that she needed someone to listen and because we were friends and we shared things talking to me helped. Often that is what we need to do simply listen.

Awareness would bring about education for those who do not understand self injure and to help reach those who do. Individuals participating in this day will write "LOVE" on their arms, draw a butterfly on their wrists "The Butterfly Porject" The goal is to break down the stereotypes of self harm and education medical professionals.

Those who self harm also often suffer from depression. An average of two million Americans engage in self harm. Cutting, scratching, bruising, and hitting as well as other harmful methods are all considered self harm. Some of the signs that someone is self harming self include

  • scars from burns or cuts 
  • fresh cuts, scratches or other wounds
  • bruises
  • hair loss or bald spots
  • broken bones
  • keeping sharp objects on hand
  • spending a lot of time alone
  • wearing long sleeves or long pants even in hot weather

Self harm by itself is not a mental illness , rather it is a behavior that indicates the individual is struggling to cope with what is going on in their life and / or environment. At times, self harm can go side by side with borderline personality disorder, eating disorder, anxiety or PTSD. If you know someone who may be self harming their self there are a few things you can do to help them:
  • inquire about how their day is and how they may be feeling
  • most importantly do not judge or make them feel guilty about how their behavior may be causing effect on others
  • Remind the individual who may self harm their self that you do care about them and listen to them. While allowing them to know how you feel about them let them vent to you, the more you talk the more they may feel ready to tell you about what is really going on.

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