Have you ever known someone who hurt themselves, and were left confused about why they did it? The truth is, there are a lot of reasons people might self-harm, and the reason could change each time. Here are four reasons people might self-harm:
1. They have endured some form of trauma, and self-harm has become their coping skill.
We do things to cope all the time (e.g. take deep breaths) because they bring some sense of relief. Sometimes, though, the coping skills we learn are harmful to our bodies. It's likely that the person hasn't learned healthy coping skills.
2. They are trying to distract themselves with physical pain
Sometimes the emotional pain is too much to bear, so it's easier to distract yourself with physical pain.
3. They need a sense of control
We all need to have some sense of control in our lives, but when we lose control and feel powerless, we might do extreme things to gain control. Engaging in self-harming behaviors may cause a sense of control over one's body and life.
4. They feel numb
In the words of Johnny Cash, "I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real."
Have you ever felt empty, numb, void of all sensation to the point that you begin to wonder if you can feel anything at all? Sometimes people self-harm because they can't feel anything, and the pain is grounding; it reminds them that they are alive.
Self-harm is more common than people think, and is a topic that deserves more discussion and understanding. When encountering someone who struggles, please remember to be calm, listen without judgment, and most importantly, be kind.