Today marks the fifth annual Self-Harm Awareness Day yet still we need to continue the battle against it – self-harm.
Now I know what you’re thinking. There are dozens of charities out there to help and everybody knows all you’ve got to do is to speak out. But it isn’t that simple and there are currently more young people than ever before causing themselves intentional pain.
A quarter of young men, aged between 16 and 24, have purposefully harmed themselves at some point in their lives. Now think about that. Every one out of four guys you know has self-harmed. That’s a helluva lot more than I ever thought.
The survey added that at least 24 per cent of 16–24-year-old men in the UK have intentionally hurt themselves and another 22 per cent have considered it as a way of coping with a difficult situation or emotion.
Speaking exclusively to UNILAD, James Pickstone, Engagement and Community Manager at The Mix, offered his thoughts on what you should do if you feel the need to self harm.
There’s a good chance any urge to self-harm comes from some feeling of stress, anger, guilt or low self-esteem, which means it can feel pretty tough to resist. But there are a few ways to try and get it under control.
First up, learn to recognise the urge to self-harm. Even if taking it out on a wall, heavy drinking or over-exercising don’t feel like self-harm, the end result is the same: you get hurt.
If you’re feeling a strong need to self-harm right now, remember this urge is temporary and will go away eventually. Try to find a safe way to cope in the meantime. Pick something from a list of coping tips and distractions such as listening to music, punching a pillow, putting on a film or squeezing an ice cube. Try to be kind to yourself until the urge passes.
If you know you get that urge to self-harm but don’t feel it right now, it can help to do some thinking about what’s helped before and what could work next time. Think about what sets the urge off – how can you avoid or prepare for that? How does harming make you feel and how else can you get that? There are loads of ways of dealing with urges to self-harm, but what works best for you?
Finally, remember you don’t have to deal with this on your own. If you’re feeling the need to self-harm, chances are you’ve got a lot on your mind. Talking about it can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Try starting with an anonymous, online community like The Mix, where you can talk with other people in groups or 1-2-1.
James went onto explain the dangers of self-harm adding that although it can provide a very quick emotional release it can lead to a whole host of long-term health problems, adding that ‘self-harm probably won’t help you feel better in the long run’.
But how do we combat self-harm? James believes we should all just look out for each other.
It’s important we all understand that men self-harm too and learn to spot it when it happens. Guys self-harm for lots of reasons and while we can’t necessarily make those reasons disappear, we can make sure we’re there for each other.
That could just mean looking out for your mates or having a friend who’s struggling over for a kick about or gaming session. We should also be comfortable having conversations with each other about what’s really going on, and confident getting extra help when we need it.
Hopefully this can help somebody out there that needs it!
If you want to get involved in the conversation on social media you can do so by using the hashtag #WhatMenNeed.
If you are affected by any of the issues highlighted here, you can contact The Samaritans for free on: 116 123.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.