Please be aware this post discusses self harm and therfore some of the content may be triggering.
Self harm is still a taboo subject and is often met with stigma,even from health professionals, who don’t understand what it’s like to deal with. Therefore I thought I’d put together a quick guide to things not to say to someone who self harms.
1. “You’re attention seeking”
Most people who self harm don’t want the attention. We often hide what we are doing much to the detriment of our mental and physical health. In fact there are easier ways to get attention than to self harm. Self harm is often a very secretive act and this can cause us trouble when we hurt ourselves to much. If this happens we’re often scared to get the health care that we need due to the stigma surrounding this subject. Also if someone is self harming for attention they still deserve your help and care. They obviously need that attention for some reason so it should not be dismissed.
2. “You know you’ll have scars for life”
Yes we know this. But at the moment our emotional pain is too much to deal with and we don’t care about the future at this moment in time. We also don’t need the judgements that you are placing on us. We often feel bad enough already without this comment.
3. “If you want to die why don’t you just do it?”
Self harm is often not a suicide attempt. Yes some people who self harm do want to die but often self harm is a way of coping with life and trying hard to stay alive. Also telling someone to just die is plain wrong. Why would you encourage someone to die?
4. “Don’t you feel pain?”
This is one that I’ve heard recently. And for me I don’t feel the pain at the time of harming myself. Everyone is different though. And even if a person doesn’t feel pain, pointing it out is not necessary and can be potentially triggering. This is why you shouldn’t say it to a person who self harms. It’s just unhelpful.
5. “Ugh, your scars are horrible”
My scars may look horrible to you but to me they are a symbol of what I’ve been through. Also its really unhelpful to say this as showing our scars is difficult enough. People should not be ashamed to show their scars. It is nothing to be ashamed of.
6. “Why don’t you just stop?”
If it was as easy as just stopping it wouldn’t be the problem it is. Self harm is like an addiction. You come to rely on it even though you know its not particularly helpful and in the long times makes things harder. Self harm becomes like your best friend as its always there for you but you know it’s actually toxic. It is a hard relationship to break down. So saying “why don’t you just stop?” is unhelpful. What we need is support to learn healthier coping strategies.
So that’s a few things not to say to someone who self harms. If you want more information on self harm you can check out the Mind website. If you want to share things not to say to someone then feel free to use the comments, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Picture from Pinterest