The Relationship between Self Harm and Stigma

Self injury or self harm, generally speaking, is a wider range of different things individuals do to themselves which is either in a deliberate or hidden way. It includes burning, cutting, banging the body against hard objects, pulling the hairs, scalding, biting, poisoning, and inserting or swallowing objects. However the harm is done, it still is damaging not only physically but also emotionally for both the person self harming and their loved ones.

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If young people self harm, they do so usually due to emotional pain and suffering, with the reasons varying for each specific individual. For some, it provides a way to deal with overwhelming emotions and helplessness. For others, it is also their way of shutting themselves off against the harsh world surrounding them and to prevent other people from getting in.


The main thing about self harm is that it is not a switch that can be turned on or off any time. Teenagers who self harm undergo periods where they feel that they are most vulnerable to self injury. Whilst it is dangerous and damaging, it provides, for most teenagers a means of coping with life’s difficulties and challenges. Friends, family and relatives of the young person should be mindful of this issue and talk with them. It is not advisable to take away his or her means of self harm and self harm help, as this can just increase the emotional anguish and can make the situation possibly worse. Discussing alternatives with them would be more fruitful and perhaps receiving some self harm training and awareness would assist you in doing so.


How Do People Stereotype Those Who self harm?

People who self harm are stereotyped in different ways. These include stereotypes around gender or race, or that self harm is just ‘cutting’ or that it’s only ‘goths’ who self harm.
Because evidences of certain aspect of self harm can be noticeable on the arms and the legs, others who are unaware of and lack understanding behind the need to self harm, may find it easy to stare, point at, react violently, and question the action. Some might see self harm as disgusting, unsightly and unbearable, however, little do they know that their judgmental actions can sometimes reduce an individual’s self esteem and could be a trigger him or her to do more injury to themselves.

When outsiders label people who self harm in a negative way, it makes them hide their scares even more so, because they do not want to be misjudged and have one more burden to carry. Young people can feel ashamed and guilty of their self harming behaviour, and all they need is positive self harm help.


At the end of the day, we all have ‘stuff’ going on at some time or other in our lives. Some people manager this better than others and many of us have unhealthy methods of doing so. Self harming is just one method that SOME people use to manage their emotional ‘stuff’!

5 Responses to “The Relationship between Self Harm and Stigma”

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