If you or someone you know self-harms there is always a listening ear available from the Samaritans
Do you or someone you know Self-harm?
If you or someone you know self-harms there is always a listening ear available from the Samaritans. Jacquie, the Director of Ballymena Samaritans said “Self-harm is usually a sign that you are struggling to cope with or express feelings of overwhelming emotional distress. Sometimes when someone self-harms they feel on some level that they deserve to die. If you feel that life is getting on top of you the Samaritans are always available to listen. You do not have to be suicidal to contact us. Talking about your thoughts and feelings may give you the space you need to work things through and make sense of how you are feeling”.
What is Self-harm?
Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It’s usually a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress. Self-harming can sometimes feel that that is the only thing that you have control of in your life.
Sometimes when people self-harm, they feel on some level that they intend to die. More than half of people who die by suicide have a history of self-harm.
But the intention is more often to punish themselves, express their distress, or relieve unbearable tension. Sometimes it’s a mixture of all three.
Self-harm can also be a cry for help.
There are many different ways people can intentionally harm themselves, such as:
- cutting or burning their skin
- punching or hitting themselves
- poisoning themselves with tablets or liquids, or similar
People often try to keep self-harm a secret because of shame or fear of discovery.
For example, if they're cutting themselves, they may cover up their skin and avoid discussing the problem.
It's often up to close family and friends to notice when somebody is self-harming, and to approach the subject with care and understanding.
Signs of self-harm
If you think a friend or relative is self-harming, look out for any of the following signs:
- unexplained cuts, bruises or cigarette burns, usually on their wrists, arms, thighs and chest
- keeping themselves fully covered at all times, even in hot weather
- signs of depression, such as low mood, tearfulness or a lack of motivation or interest in anything
- self-loathing and expressing a wish to punish themselves
- not wanting to go on and wishing to end it all
- becoming very withdrawn and not speaking to others
- signs of low self-esteem, such as blaming themselves for any problems or thinking they're not good enough for something
- signs they have been pulling out their hair
People who self-harm can seriously hurt themselves, so it's important that they speak to a GP about the underlying issue and request treatment or therapy that could help them.
Why people self-harm
Self-harm is more common than many people realise, especially among younger people.
It's estimated around 10% of young people self-harm at some point, but people of all ages do.
This figure is also likely to be an underestimate, as not everyone seeks help.
In most cases, people who self-harm do it to help them cope with overwhelming emotional issues, which may be caused by:
- social problems – such as being bullied including cyber-bullying, having difficulties at work or school, having difficult relationships with friends or family, coming to terms with their sexuality if they think they might be gay or bisexual, or coping with cultural expectations, such as an arranged marriage
- trauma – such as physical or sexual abuse, the death of a close family member or friend, or having a miscarriage
- psychological causes – such as having repeated thoughts or voices telling them to self-harm, disassociating (losing touch with who they are and with their surroundings), or borderline personality disorder
These issues can lead to a build-up of intense feelings of anger, guilt, hopelessness and self-hatred.
The person may not know who to turn to for help and self-harming may become a way to release these pent-up feelings.
Self-harm can also occur alongside antisocial behaviour, such as misbehaving at school or getting into trouble with the police.
Although some people who self-harm are at a high risk of suicide, many people who self-harm don't want to end their lives.
In fact, the self-harm may help them cope with emotional distress so they don't feel the need to kill themselves.
Samaritans are always available to support you when you need us. Contact us on 116123 or e-mail [email protected] day or night.
Ballymena Samaritans also has a very strong outreach team, going out to schools, clubs, in fact any organisation that invites Samaritans to come and talk about the work we do.
If you would like to find out more about the service provided by Samaritans or if you would like a representative to come to your group, business, church or school please get in touch. Talks are tailored to suit different groups and ages. Contact the Ballymena branch on 028 2564 4846 daily between 7.30pm and 10.00pm or e-mail [email protected] for more information.
Samaritans has 8 branches throughout Northern Ireland which can be contacted in confidence, 24 hours a day on 116123.
Come along to a Spring Tractor Run (from Vintage to New, all tractors welcome) on Saturday 13 April 2019 at Ballymena Livestock Market, Woodside Road, Ballymena – to enter Tickets £15 per tractor – breakfast included (+ £5 per head for additional people). For an entry form please contact Marie on 07934551484. All proceeds in aid of Samaritans of Ballymena. Members of the Public are also welcome to come along and see the Tractors, or watch the Tractor Run along the route. Details will be provided nearer the time.