Self-injury is not uncommon among people, especially in adolescents and young adults. The results can be very serious. Appropriate treatment can help people recover from self-harming behaviors, so it is important to increase awareness of the problem. Here are some clues and tips of how to tell if someone is self-harming, and what can we do to help them.
What is Self-harm?
Self-harm or self-injury is when people hurt themselves on purpose. Most common self-harm injuries are cuts made by knives, but they can range to extreme injuries like broken bones. Self-injury is a sign of mental distress, and people often use self-injury as a way to get rid of negative emotions. Self-injury may also lead to the feeling of guilt or shame, and when this feeling is intense, they may hurt themselves again.
By observing carefully how people act and what they say, we can be more aware if this person is considering self-harm . For example, if you find someone who is always saying something negative and complaining about everything around him/her; or are always wearing long sleeves even in very hot weather to potentially hide self-harm scars and/or fresh wounds, this person may be hurting him/herself.
What can you do to help?
When you notice this behavior, you can go through the process of “ALGEE” to help them. ALGEE is an acronym explaining how best to approach a situation where someone may be self-harming. A means Assess the situation for risk of suicide or harm; L means Listen to nonjudgmentally; G means Give reassurance and information; E means Encourage appropriate professional help, and again for Encourage self-help and other support.
Treatment and coping
For people who are considering self-harm, information below details the treatments and coping mechanisms:
- Talking to a trusted confidant is the first step of treatment. This person could be a parent, friend, medical professional, or the best option would be a psychologist. During the conversation, a psychologist can explore their past experiences and emotions, and help people to release the pressure they put on themselves.
- Depending on the severity of the situation, doctors may prescribe medication to help overcome different emotions and emotional changes.
What are some resources on campus? Online?
If you are worried someone is suffering from this behavior, and you cannot give them proper help, here is contact information for professional support:
- Student Health and Counseling Services: (530) 752-2349
- Yolo County Health & Human Services Agency: (530) 666-8630
- 24-hour Crisis Line: 888- 965-6647
- Suicide prevention 24-hour helpline