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Self-harm Myths and risk Factors

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Self-harm Myths: What It Isn’t

It is common for negative stereotypes about people who self-harm to be propagated through myths about self-harm. Imperatively you need to be aware of Self-harm Myths and risk Factors. Healthcare professionals have a duty to challenge these negative stereotypes and address them with scientific facts if they are to succeed.

People who self-harm often believe the following myths:

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A person who self-harms is seeking attention

This is perhaps the most common stereotype you’ll hear, but it’s not true. It is common for self-harmers to hide their experiences for a long time before they seek help. Self-harmers often have difficulty asking for help because it is so difficult to reach out.

Self-harm is primarily committed by teenage girls

Self-harm is more likely to occur in women and girls, but it can happen to anyone regardless of their gender, age, or background.

A sadist is someone who self-harms for the enjoyment of it / People who self-harm for the enjoyment of it

The perception of pain by people who self-harm is not different from that of the general public. There can be significant consequences to self-harm, including severe pain and physical damage. People who self-harm may consider this pain to be punishment, while others may view it as an attempt to feel strong emotions when they are normally numb.

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Self-harmers are suicidal

Attempts at suicide or suicidal thoughts are not exclusively associated with self-harm. When we experience distressing emotions or circumstances, we often turn to this form of coping. It is imperative to note, however, that people who self-harm may feel depressed and may attempt to end their own lives. Taking suicidal thoughts or intent seriously should always be taken into consideration when someone who self-harm communicates with them.

Risk factors for self-harm

Several risk factors may increase the likelihood of someone self-harming. There are minority groups and social groups more at risk for self-harm than others based on adverse experiences and social circumstances, regardless of gender, age, and background.

Important Facts and Statistics About Self-Harm: Prevalence, Risk Factors, & More

In the following countries, self-harm rates are higher:
  • Although men and boys commit suicide at higher rates, women and girls also commit suicide.

  • Inmates

  • Seekers of asylum

  • Veterans and members of the armed forces

  • Those who have lost a loved one to suicide

  • Minority groups from some cultures

  • Individuals who belong to a sexual minority

  • Those living in urban areas that are underserved

  • Addicts suffer from substance abuse

  • Those suffering from anxiety or depression are most likely to engage in self-harm. However, adults without depression and anxiety are also affected.

  • As a child, someone who has been physically abused, emotionally abused or sexually abused

Triggers of self-harm

A person’s specific circumstances, experiences, and context are likely to trigger them to self-harm. If you listen carefully to a person’s triggers for self-harm, you may be able to support them in a more targeted manner to address these triggers. The Scottish Executive’s Choose Life suicide prevention strategy (2002, Scottish Executive) cites several common triggers for self-harm, including:

  • Traumatic events, such as abuse or bullying, can lead to trauma

  • Conflict within the family

  • Splitting up with your parents

  • The loneliness of living alone

  • Breakups in relationships

  • Isolation from social networks

  • Suffering from homelessness

  • Loss of employment or an inability to find a new job

  • Illness of the mind/psychiatric disorders

  • Having financial difficulties

  • Problems in the legal system

  • A discriminatory practice

What are the reasons people self-harm?

People who self-harm have many reasons for doing so. There are many reasons why someone might self-harm, and their reasons might change over time. The following reasons may motivate people to self-harm:

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  • Managing emotions like anger and sadness when they are difficult and distressing

  • They tend to feel guilty about the wrongdoings they believe they have committed

  • Someone else should be informed of how they feel

  • Emotionally express negative feelings

  • Get away from feelings or emotions by distracting themselves

  • Take steps to address the feelings of numbness that can accompany mental health issues such as depression.

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