March is Self-Injury Awareness Month which is a month dedicated to raising awareness of self-injury and the many resources which are available for individuals who are struggling with self-harm. Self-injury is prevalent in as many as 4% of adults in the United States. Rates are even higher among adolescents, with 15% of teens reporting some form of self-injury.
Self-injury is when an individual hurts themselves on purpose. People tend to self-harm when they are dealing with emotional pain as a way to cope with the feelings they are having. It is not the same thing as attempting suicide, but it still needs to be taken very seriously. Without proper treatment a self-destructive cycle can continue for individuals who are engaging in self-harm behaviors.
There are many different warning signs a person can look out for in a loved one. Some of these warning signs include seeing unexplained frequent injuries, low self-esteem, or poor functioning at work or school. In order to cover up injuries, sometimes individuals will wear clothing that doesn’t make sense like wearing long sleeves during the summer. These are all different signs a person can look for if they are thinking that a loved one might be harming themselves.
If you are struggling with self-harm, please know you are not alone. There are treatment options and also different resources which are there to help you. There are also different things you can do to try and help deal with the strong emotions you are having. One thing you can do is to name your reason for hurting yourself and your reason for quitting. You also could tackle the underlying emotions. Why are you hurting yourself? What emotions are leading you to that? And where are those emotions coming from? Another thing you can do that is so important is to reach out for help. If you try some self-care tips and they are not working, please do not hesitate to ask for help. Talk to a friend, a therapist, or call a crisis lifeline.
As mentioned above, there are different treatment options for self-harm behavior. Usually, effective treatment of self-injury is a combination of medication, cognitive therapy, and also interpersonal therapy. There are also many different resources which are available as well. An individual can text the Crisis Text Line (text anything to 741-741), call the S.A.F.E Alternative information line at 800-366-8288, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Ultimately, know that your life is incredibly valuable and there is help available. You are not alone.
Katie Zimmerman, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Katie Zimmerman joined The Kim Foundation in June 2019. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and Sociology from Central College in Pella, Iowa. During her time in college, she volunteered at many non-profit organizations and took multiple sociology classes which focused on mental health. Katie’s role at The Kim Foundation includes running the social media accounts, assisting in the Youth Advisory Council, and providing mental health awareness and education to the community through A Voice for Hope and Healing presentations.