June 14, 2018
June 14, 2018


Suicide and Self harm (myths)

There are a number of myths regarding suicide and self-harm. Unfortunately, these myths permeate our understanding, and sometimes have a negative impact on our attempts to help someone who is struggling with self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Myth: Self-harm involves ‘cutting’.

Fact: Self-harm can come in a number of forms. One of the more obvious forms is ‘cutting’ or inflicting physical harm on one’s self. However, other forms that create physical pain, such as pinching, pulling hair or punching themselves or a wall are other forms of self-harm that are frequently encountered.

Myth: Self-harm is an attempt at suicide.

Fact: Self-harm is not a suicide attempt, but rather a manner in which individuals attempt to express their emotional or mental pain in a physical manner. It is often used as a coping mechanism, and does not always mean the individual wishes to die.

Myth: Self-harm is only done by adolescents

Fact: People of all ages engage in self-harm.

Myth: Self-harm is an attention-seeking behaviour

Fact: Most people who engage in self-harm try to hide their scars and injuries, and they are often only discovered by accident. This myth often reinforces negative ideas in those who do engage in self-harm, and can create a vicious cycle of negative beliefs and self-harm. Rather than believing individuals self-harm for attention, we should understand that self-harm is used as a way of expressing emotional pain, and should respond with compassion and understanding.

Myth: Discussing suicide and self-harm will push people to engage in these acts

Fact: There is no evidence to suggest discussing self-harm or suicidal thoughts with someone will push them to this, or put ideas in their head. Discussing these ideas often has the opposite effect, whereby these thoughts are expressed and discussed, rather than running on a loop inside the person’s head.

Myth: A person who has suicidal thoughts wants to attempt suicide

Fact: People can often express thoughts of suicide without wanting to end their life. Often people will have these thoughts, but do not intend to harm themselves. Talking these issues through can help encourage people to work towards better mental health and continue with life.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are discussing suicide or self-harm, be sure to let the person know you care. Allow them to speak to you about their feelings, and listen to what they have to say. Be patient, calm, and non-judgmental, and reassure them there is help available. Don’t try to argue with them, and don’t ask them to justify their feelings. Often just talking through these thoughts and feelings is enough to start the process towards better mental health.

Both Prue Gilligan and Stuart Cheverton are highly trained counsellors and have worked in the area of suicide prevention for a number of years. We are able to support you or a loved one experiencing suicidal thoughts or self harm but we are not an emergency service. We provide counselling and ongoing support. To discuss this further please call our intake phone on 0411 791 089

Please call the Suicide Call Back Service if you are thinking about self harm or suicide or if you are concerned for someone else's safety. Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Image created by Christiaan Tonnis, Female Warrior #17

Related Tags: Depression Counselling Footscray , Depression Counselling Mill Park

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