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5 Things I Wish People Understood About Those Who Self-Harm


Here are some things I wish people understood about people who self-harm.

1. We don’t want attention if we are not hiding our scars.

Just like everyone else, people who self-harm enjoy summertime, which often means more skin showing. It can take a lot for people who self-harm to show our scars because we can feel vulnerable and exposed. Know we went through a lot of pain. It got to the point to where we inflicted it on ourselves so we had some control over what was hurting us.

2. Please, don’t shame us for our past.

The pain we felt was real to us. Yes, we hurt ourselves. This doesn’t give you permission to dictate how we should feel about it now. Realize we aren’t proud we hurt ourselves; however, if you shame someone who is recovering, then it is possible you throw them back into the loop of self-harm, temporary relief, regrets, anger and sadness.

3. No, this isn’t just some “trend.” It’s a real problem that plagues us daily.

On the internet, it’s easy romanticize mental illnesses, and this can include self-harm. Because of this, many may see self-harm as a trend. Many news channels have brought self-harm to parents’ eyes. Yet, they call it a trend.

Self-harm isn’t a trend. It isn’t glamorous. It isn’t like infinity scarves or skater skirts. For some of us, we get addicted. We come to need it or else we cannot deal with life.

4. Don’t give us false sympathy.

While self-harm is serious and sad, we don’t want to be met with pity. It makes it feel like we can’t trust you. It’s better to say you aren’t sure how to respond than give us false sympathy.

5. Yes, you may ask questions if we’re comfortable with it.

Before you ask us your questions about self-harm, please ask if we are comfortable. Don’t badger us if you ask what happened and we blame the cat or thorn bushes. We might not be comfortable with being honest. Give us time. It may take a while. Someday, I believe the social stigma will go away, and there will be a safe space for people who self-harm to realize they are loved, they matter and they are worth it. There we will know self-harming isn’t worth it anymore because we love ourselves.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.