Think ‘Cutting’ Isn’t Real? Think Again

3 min read
Think ‘Cutting’ Isn’t Real? Think Again

* Please be advised that this article focuses on aspects of self harm and may be upsetting or triggering for some readers.

When it comes to self harm, the burning question is ‘Why would someone intentionally hurt themselves?’. For most, the thought of purposefully injuring oneself is unfathomable, and when it comes to our children and friends, the thought of them being physically hurt causes obvious distress. But for the self-harmer, it’s release. It’s relief from the pressure of an underlying problem the only way they have found that works for them.

Self-harming is a difficult issue to discuss as it can be defined in lots of different ways, and is generally inflicted in secret. Usually, self-harm is defined as someone deliberately hurting themselves without wanting to die.

The reasons people harm themselves are complicated. Self-harming involving deliberately causing themselves physical pain can be a way of managing difficult or painful emotions for some people, or can be used as a way of communicating distress to others (which is very different to looking for attention).

An expression of personal distress, rather than an illness, self-harmers often have other underlying mental health conditions such as depression.

In 2010-2011, there were more than 26,000 hospitalisations for self-harm across Australia, although this figure only represents the tip of the iceberg as only one in ten people who self-harm come to clinical attention. People who self-harm often try to keep it a secret and usually cover up their skin and avoid discussing the problem. They may display signs of depression or low self-esteem or suffer from unexplained injuries.The Severe Reality Of Self Harm

In an interview with the ABC, Sydney-based child and adolescent psychiatrist, Professor Philip Hazell, reiterated that women in particular usually hurt themselves as a coping mechanism and it is a symptom of a serious underlying issue such as stress, depression, relationship difficulties, bullying or abuse.

“For most (self-harmers) it seems to be a way of relieving immediate distress,” he said. “So people who engage in self-harm feel a bit better for a period after they have done it”

At the milder end of the scale, these behaviours include mild to moderate self-injury and, at the more extreme end, attempted suicide. The most common methods of self-harm are cutting and deliberately overdosing on medication.

Types of deliberate harm may include:

  • cutting or slashing the skin
  • burning or scalding the skin
  • punching, biting or using blunt force on the body
  • hanging, strangulation, suffocation or self-poisoning
  • misusing alcohol or drugs
  • refusing food or water or eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, binge eating or bulimia
  • reckless driving.

Someone who is self-harming can seriously hurt themselves, so it is important that they speak to a doctor about the underlying issue and about any treatment or therapy that might help them as soon as possible.

 If you, or anyone you know, are wishing to seek help for self harming, Beyond Blue have amazing tools and resources to assist with all areas of mental health.

If you become concerned about your, or anyone else’s, health please seek immediate medical attention or go to our health hotlines and website post for further resources 

SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information.  All information provided is correct at time of publication. 





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