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The Stigma of Self-Harm: How Can it Disappear?

“All Self-Harmers are Suicidal and Seek Attention”

That statement is, sadly, the ultimate stigma of self-harm. The media has played a small part with this stigma, portraying self-injurers as being the ones who sit quietly in the corner, cutting their arms and crying. (read: Self-Injurers and Their Common Personality Traits)

Wrong.

Sadly, this is how many people see self-harmers when, in reality, many self-harmers do not fit into a particular clique. In high school, I was a typical music geek. I was a serious ballet dancer, performed in musicals, and did Colorguard in the marching band. I laughed along with friends and pushed out a smile when teachers walked by.

However, leather bracelets covered the self-harm scars I was trying to hide and bathrooms were where I hid when I couldn’t stop the thoughts in my head from yelling at me – telling me to hurt myself. I did not feel as talented as those around me and put on a charade day after day. I was not cutting myself to kill myself every time I made a mark.

I was cutting for reasons that those around me couldn’t understand.

The Stigma of Self-Harm is Not Easy to Get Rid Of

It is so hard to try to make the stigma of self-harm disappear – or any stigma for that matter. How hard is it to stop the sayings that all blondes are dumb or that all nerds do not have fun? We have grown up in a world where people throw judgments at people and no matter how hard you may try to rip off those labels, they seem to stick like super-glue. That’s the effect of stigma but, thankfully, not all people listen and follow these stigmas, but sadly more than enough people do.

It really is up to you to make a stigma disappear and it is not easy. You cannot just wake up one day and tell yourself that the world is going to see everyone clearly. That would be one heck of a wake-up call. You have to work with others, as a team of sorts. By spreading awareness and becoming knowledgeable about self-harm, those who are struggling may feel more supported. They won’t be looked at as if they are monsters; they will be looked at as if they are typical human beings.

That’s the first step in erasing a stigma – realizing that everyone has baggage because everyone is human.

How Can This Stigma Disappear?

If you really want to try to get rid of the stigma that goes with self-harm, here are a few baby-steps:

– Find speakers who can come to health classes and talk about self-harm. By gaining truthful knowledge, some of those crazy rumors and stories can slowly be wiped away.

– Do not mock self-harm by saying things such as, “I could have slit my wrists over the homework last night.” Those little statements hit close to home to those who self-harm even when being overheard.

– Read up on the subject – Noon discusses self-harm and may open the reader’s eyes to the subject.

– Spread the awareness beyond just your group of friends and your family – take part in an awareness walk or create a fundraiser. For example, take part in the Stand Up For Mental Health Campaign.

4 thoughts on “The Stigma of Self-Harm: How Can it Disappear?”

  1. When I self harmed many years ago – it was the first time and I did it not to relieve pain but to end my life. I did this twice and had surgery on both my wrists. I continued to try and re[eat the same act in another suicide attempt but was told if I was to do this again I would have to be ‘restrained.’ – Of cause this happened when I was under the influence of alcohol and had also overdosed on other occasions.

    10 yrs later – I have had relapses but continue to satay out of er and away from critical psych care. I remember one psych nurse who made up a report said that my cuts were ‘superficial’ and I said how can that be when I have had deep surgery on both wrists- she anwered bluntly there is “no black & white” I found this to be insanely absurd when the ‘evidence’ was truly set in black & white medical reports. Though I guess she Only wanted to focus on the last repeated “eposides” that I tried to “complete” the procedure of suicide; but couldn’t compete with the earlier episodes. It takes a lot of courage & lot of pain.

    I had a relapse not long ago after not being in er for 10 years – but that isn’t to say that I had my ups & downs & did overdose now & then only to come back alive and well.

    Each time, I thought “I’m still here.” –
    Again I think I have tried to make great changes and to take ‘control’ of my ‘episodes’ that usually amplifies if I;m drinking alcohol; Soberly i would not try & harm or suicide.

    So it also goes to show be very careful in doing any sort of ‘substance abuse’ during the times you have an episode.

    Easier said than done- though I still try and are still remaining alive today.

    I have survived…

  2. Actually,its called emo crowed.i know its popularity is growing and dont know how far it goes,but yes in this new thing,cutting is a badge of honor kinda thing within the crowed.dont be ignorant yourself,like thet are gonna share with adults.see I look like a 6th grader due to my size(im 5’2 and tip scales at 94lbs)and adults dont even think im 34.so its easier for me to blend and um,what teens are up to,be afraid.ive met(ages 12-16)roughly 6 active drug addicts and 1 11yr boy repeat sex offender and 3 suicides.i know so much more than you realize.dont preach ignorance to the quior,i have 8 major mental disorders,2 have me flagged as a viable homicidal/suicidal threat.i deal with fucked off ignorant shit heads whenever I go places and stigma!!im not saying all who cut are in the emo crowed,i was a cutter,i know more than you.im just giving parents a warning if your kids into emo,keep an extra eye on things.

  3. Most who self-harm, especially those who cut, do it in spots on their body that cannot be seen by others. How can that be for attention? Another clear demonstration that stigma stems from ignorance.

  4. Im not sure if anyone is aware of the popular emo trend among our teen crowd.they for lack of a better term advertise cuttings the new cool thing to do.any thoughts?

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