Help the Way we Help
The action of self-harm is only seen for its negative effects, therefore labeling it as a problem. Self-harming may be defined as inflicting pain on oneself, but the physical pain is better than the emotional pain which could trigger a worse action. Although it is harmful to the body there are benefits, if there were none people would not feel the need to do it. The shaming of the process by others only makes the action more harmful.
When a person cuts, burns, or injures themselves they are taking on many consequences from the action. There consequences are temporary however though and take the mind off doing the other permanent possibility, suicide. Self-harming and suicide have different intentions but can they can be outcomes of similar feelings. It is scientifically proven that the endorphins released while harming relax the person doing so. Without this relaxation period a person could make a radical much more dangerous decision. There is the fear of harming to the point to be life threatening such as severing a major vein, or a bad burn however only two percent of all suicides are a result of self-harm. The majority of suicides are a result of holding in these bad emotions to the point of giving up and wanting to die, therefore the release might save a life.
Current support methods for self-harmers are focusing on stopping future incidents of harm rather than the causes. Although with good intentions therapists and others caring for those suffering, often hurt the one they are trying to help. People want to stop the problem immediately but it is causing more emotional distress and thus more self-harming incidents. A large portion of self-harmers are diagnosed with depression or bipolar disease. Those diagnosed can have a near impossible time just stopping from talking, and the guilt they receive when they can’t stop with the current help only adds to their feelings of sadness. Harming is an addiction, similar to drugs or alcohol, and therefore those who do so will not want to be helped. Majority want to continue doing so because it makes them feel fine, stopping may not seem an option. The safe self-harm approach that Samantha Warner and other psychiatrists are developing is better. The approach can help control harming and reduce the amount of people who harm to the point of hospitalization. With less shame and allowing people to do as they please they are more likely to talk about the causes more and may feel less inclined to continue over time. This may be the only real way to get a handle on the situation, if current methods were working self-harmers would not be so resistant to help.