Self-harm is a means of masking psychological distress with physical injury. It provides a temporary relief from emotional numbness, and diverts the attention from the root cause of the problem. Such behavior is commonly observed in older adolescent girls. The World Health organization (WHO) reports that globally self-harm is the second leading cause of mortality for young girls. In 2015, nearly 32,500 girls aged 10-19 years died after harming themselves. The self-injury behavior is less common in adults. In the United States, approximately 1.3 percent children aged 5-10 years indulge in self-injurious behavior.
Self-injury Awareness Month observed in March every year across the U.S. is an opportunity to help the ones suffering. It is a means to spread awareness to understand people’s problems and encouraging them to talk and seek help. Many people continue to suffer as they are afraid of being judged and ridiculed.
Famous American singer Demi Lovato used to slit her wrists during her troubled adolescence. The singer has been very vocal about her struggles with eating disorders, bipolar and addiction. Though she seems to be doing fine now, she has admitted of facing tough times on few days. Recently, her mom released a memoir “Falling without wings,” revealing how her daughter grappled with so many problems and what the mother went through when she discovered teen daughter’s diary.
Dianna De La Garza was disturbed after having read one particular confession by Lovato, “Nobody loves a fat rock star. Guess I’ll have to starve myself so people will like me.” The singer had also written about leaving her house and indulging in self-harm, which startled her mother who sought to help her 18-year-old exhausted rock star. Garza also mentioned in her memoir that her daughter was visiting websites promoting bulimia and anorexia, two most prevalent eating disorders in the country.
Be Vocal: Speak up for mental health
In 2015, Lovato launched an initiative Be Vocal to raise awareness surrounding mental health issues. The campaign works in conjunction with five leading mental health advocacy organizations including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America (MHA), along with Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.. Their aim is to encourage people to talk about their mental health problems without fearing stigma or shame. Under the campaign, Lovato also produced a documentary “Beyond Silence” that “celebrates the strength, perseverance and dedication of these courageous individuals determined to break through the silence and help others along the way.”
Stress, trauma and self-injury
Self-injury, also known as self-inflicted violence (SIV), is the deliberate infliction of injury to oneself. It can include cutting one’s skin with a sharp tool, burning, scratching, pulling out hair, interfering with wound healing and breaking bones. There is no suicidal intent, just the intent to injure. Common self-injury habits are cutting, burning skin with a match or lighter, carving things into the skin and skin peeling. Women who have experienced trauma are more likely to inflict injury on themselves. Trauma can be caused due to various reasons – childhood abuse or neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual assault or rape, verbal abuse, being a witness to wars or accidents, and natural disasters. Many people who injure themselves often abuse substances or suffer from other mental disorders like depression.
When looking into the effects of trauma on women, there is a strong correlation between surviving abuse and the onset of self-injury disorder. The purpose or intention behind it is complex, primarily aiming to restore psychological equilibrium. Although physical injury is a result of self-injury, it is usually minimal and not life-threatening. The after-effects of trauma continue until adequate treatment is provided.
Help at hand
Many attempts have been made to estimate the prevalence of self-injury, but it is difficult because people who live with it generally attempt to keep the behavior a secret. This is because of not only shame or embarrassment, but also to avoid intervention. Many mental health providers do not screen for self-injury disorder, or misdiagnose and perceive the behavior as suicidal.
Sovereign Health is a leading behavioral health treatment provider in the U.S. The trained and experienced staff at our state-of-the-art centers provide an integrated treatment for self-injury disorder treatment for women. For more information on self-injury disorder treatment centers for women, call our 24/7 helpline number and speak to an admission specialist or chat online with an expert.