We have all heard by now of the rise in self harm amongst young people. For some parents this news will have come as a complete shock on hearing that one of those young people is their son or daughter.
Then starts the challenge of knowing which is the best approach to adopt in supporting your child, in supporting yourself and the rest of the family, and of course, dealing with the self harming activity itself. This is also coupled with the challenge of knowing where to turn for help and which professional to approach!
In addition to the above, there are the added challenges of dealing with a gamut of raw emotions such as fear, guilt, sadness, anxiety, hurt, together with self blame, blaming other family members and/or the person who is self harming, in an attempt to somehow find a way through this situation and wondering why people self harm.
In these circumstances, parents can often feel quite alone, isolated and
frustrated. With the stigma attached to self harm and some medical professional’s unhelpful approach to self harm, it is not always an easy situation and condition to deal with or get appropriate support for. The search for real help is made that much harder with websites promoting how to self harm. That said, parents self blame, however, does not help them or the situation, but rather keeps them stuck. There are a myriad of reasons why the self harming activity occurred in the first place.
For instance, it can be triggered by simple causes like exam pressure to other complex family related matters. An open flow of information and communication is definitely the key in getting to the root cause of the self harming behaviour and gaining more self harm awareness.
Self harming activities are wide ranging and not just the stereotypical cutting. Hair pulling, alcohol abuse, gang culture, self neglect and head banging are just some other examples of self harm. It is also an activity that transcends all cultures, societies, religion and ages, starting from as young as three or four years old to senior citizens in their eighties. Indeed, some parents are themselves people who self harm and may have concerns about the knock on effect that this will have on their children.
There isn’t a typical person who self harms or a typical family that people who self harm come from.
Given that self harm is generally a cry for help, the situation isn’t just going to go away by itself! Parents require an avenue and means of getting the help and self harm support and open communication to deal with it.
One source of information is seeking advice via your local GP/doctor and another is via local counselling or therapeutic interventions.
The main thing is to acknowledge that there is a situation that needs to be dealt with if the whole family is to move forward.