5 Stigmas Hindering People Who Self-Harm From Getting Help


At the height of “emo” culture, self-harm was a subject both talked about in hushed tones and openly mocked. It was the source of a heap of stigmas and created some deep misunderstandings. Although that time period is now over a decade behind us, several of these old assumptions continue to hinder those who self-harm from getting help. Here are five of these stigmas:

1. Self-harm stopped being “a big deal” around 2010.

That means no one does it anymore, right?

Self-harm was pretty public around that time, but it’s still an issue. Less people are making fun of it now, which is great, but this means it’s also getting less attention overall, which is not so good.

2. Self-harm only affects teenagers.

Also not true. First of all, teenagers grow into adults — who can still carry around the same emotional baggage and methods of coping. Adults may also have just gotten better at hiding their habits.

3. Individuals who self-harm eventually grow out of it.

Not necessarily. Self-harm may start out for one reason or another, but there are many reasons why it continues to happen. One reason has to do with shame. A person who self-harms may self-harm as a coping mechanism, then once the surge of emotion is gone, they start to feel ashamed of needing to do it in the first place. This can lead to self-doubt and problems with self-worth, which can in turn lead to more self-harm.

4. People only self-harm for attention.

Definitely not! Self-harm is a serious matter, and just because someone is using it as a coping mechanism doesn’t mean they want attention. It just says is they need someone to take them seriously and help them fight their battles.

5. Self-harm only happens in certain locations with certain tools.

The general stigma is, unfortunately, one perpetrated by “emo” culture. Self-harm usually conjures up the idea of a razor blade and a wrist. But the truth of the matter is, there are many methods people use to self-harm, and all of them need to be taken seriously.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Image via Thinkstock.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Self-harm

Close up of Girl sitting on grass with crossed legs

To the Body I Bruised, Scarred and Starved

Dear Body, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry for the scars, for the ridicule, for the hatred, for the cruel words. I’m sorry for it all. It was never your fault. You were just doing what you do best: keeping me alive. Yet, I wanted nothing more than to see you as those [...]
Doctor talking to patient.

When a Doctor in the ER Pointed Out My Self-Harm Scars

I was homeschooled throughout my childhood, and as such I never gained enough exposure to other children and various illnesses to strengthen the defenses of my immune system. That all changed when I moved over 700 miles away from home to attend a university. While I was there, I lived on campus and was suddenly exposed [...]
Woman leaving entrance door carrying two suitcases

When Self-Harm Is an Abusive Relationship You Have With Yourself

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Speaking of my tribulations, I find myself shocked at the oddity that I am so close to the demons that have harmed me from the inside out. Weirdly enough, I think I [...]
student sitting in a stairwell of a school

When Someone Made a 'Funny' Comment About My Self-Harm Scars

Dealing with self-harm scars in secret is hard enough, but when the scars are out there for people to see and comment on, things become much more difficult. I’ve been blessed to have a great deal of confidence and strength when it comes to revealing my scars. I’ve come to terms with them and see [...]