Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Helping those who self harm

Unfortunately in today's society it is very common for you to know someone who self harms. This number of teenagers grows each year and this means that children of younger ages are going to have to deal with someone who self harms. But in these situations it can be very difficult for you to help someone as the reason for their self harming may be unknown to you or too complex for someone to understand. Often someone who self harms will hide the scars from their peers doing everything in their power to not show those around them. This may be because they are ashamed of what they are doing or because they do not want to draw attention to themselves. 


My experience 

When I was in year 8 this is normally when puberty hits hard and everyone goes a little bit crazy. There are emo phases taking people out one by one and everywhere you turn someone seems to be crying. However these are when real mental health issues can be uncovered. My example is that I have a friend who has a troubled past life but year eight is when it began to upset her. she would self harm all the time and when I released that she was doing I felt powerless. I wanted to tell a teacher but I couldn't as my friend told me she would never speak to me again. I shouldn't have listened to her but I did.

The only way that I saw was a good way of me helping was not to interfere. I needed to make sure she felt secure and I needed to show her that self harm is not the best way to cope with your emotions. There are always others.

What to do

  • Make sure the person in question feels secure and that they know that you are not going around talking about them behind their back. If they find this out it may have an adverse effect. The best thing is to listen to them when they need to talk to you and for you to support them and try to understand them.
  • Try and offer alternatives. I tried to get her to call or text me when she felt like doing it and we organised for her to start doing art as a way of getting her mind down on something. We also did that with writing stories but as she is dyslexic this was quite hard
  • Do not expect that you are going to be able to cure them. You aren't a psychologist and you aren't a miracle worker. Mental illness is very hard to understand as it is different for everyone. For someone people self harm will be a problem throughout their life.
  • Do not let the person feel as if they can rely on you for everything. I let this happen to me in year eight and I was getting phone calls, worrying texts, messages from her saying she was going to kill herself and threats. It is okay to feel not up to helping and to just stop. However if you feel that they are in immediate danger you should phone their parents or you can even phone 999.
  • Never tell them that they are looking for attention. Never. Ever. Ever. Ever. Even if you think that they are just don't. You really have no idea and it could trigger something a lot worse to happen.

When to get help

Deciding when to do this can be very challenging but you should always alert the school. Something I didn't do until much later and I regret it. I wouldn't recommend going to the parents first as they probably haven't dealt with it before and they might react in an rude way.

There are also a number of websites you can go on and you should consider going on Childline and ringing them if it all gets too much. It can be a lot of pressure on you when you are being relied on for such a big topic. No one is going to judge you for say that you can't handle it anymore. It doesn't make you a selfish nor a bad person.

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