Self Harm & Suicide
Do you contemplate self harm or have suicidal thoughts?
Do you have very intense emotions that change quickly?
Have you actively thought about ways of taking your own life?
Do you feel trapped and in a hopeless situation with no sight of a way out?
Have you started to sort out possessions or make a will?
How we can help…
Self-harm is usually used as a way to cope with overwhelming emotional distress. The NHS reports that more than half of people who die by suicide have a history of self-harm. However, the intention behind self-harm is more often than not to punish, express emotional distress or relieve unbearable tension. Whilst not all people who self harm will attempt suicide, recognising potential warning signs and accessing support can be crucial in preventing suicide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are approximately 800,000 suicide deaths each year. It is the second leading cause of death amongst 15-29 year olds.
If you can relate to feelings associated with self harm or suicide its crucial that you speak to someone. We can provide a confidential supportive and non-judgemental space.
Self Harm & Suicide – Adults
Everyone at some point in their lives may encounter high levels of pressure or distressing thoughts that are overwhelming. For some, these emotions build up and the pressure they feel is turned in on themselves. Self harming can be a method of relieving pressure or distressing thoughts whilst others may be able to manage these feelings by talking to friends or family. The triggers and reasons vary from person to person but may include:
This may include bereavement, having a miscarriage or abortion or physical/sexual abuse.
A person may experience bullying, they may be struggling at work, difficulty building and maintaining relationships with family or friends, struggling to come to terms with their sexuality or struggling to cope with cultural expectations that have been placed on them.
A person may have repeated and intrusive thoughts of self-harm that they struggle to control. People with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder tend to struggle with self-harming behaviour.
There are many different forms of self-harm. Some of the common forms include:
- Cutting or burning of the skin.
- Punching or hitting.
- Poisoning with tablets or liquids.
There is often a lot of shame and stigma attached and subsequently many people try to keep their behaviour a secret. For this reason, it is usually family or friends who notice that a person has been self-harming. Indicators may include:
- Any unexplained cuts, bruises or cigarette burns to a person’s wrists, arms, thighs or chest.
- A person may go out of their way to keep themselves covered up at all times.
- Depression can sometimes be a trigger. Signs include low mood, tearfulness or a lack of motivation.
- A person may experience a high level of self-loathing and may express a wish to punish themselves.
- A person may feel hopeless and feel that they can’t continue with life.
- They may withdraw and not wish to speak to others.
- They may display signs of low self-esteem, blame themselves for problems they feel that they are causing, feelings of not being good enough.
- They may engage in behaviour such as pulling out hair.
Self Harm & Suicide – Young People
Whilst teenage years can hold exciting experiences for many they can also hold a great deal of anxiety, with fears over academic performance, relationships and the future. Unfortunately, for some this anxiety can be overwhelming and can lead to difficulty in everyday functioning and in some cases, tragically, result in self-harm or suicide.
A study conducted by Oxford University and published in The Lancet: Child and Adolescent Health (2020) found that the risk of suicide is 30 times higher in young people who self-harm. Early intervention is vital for this reason as it ensures that children and young people get the support they need. However, although some young people reach out to friends or family when they are in pain others do not due to the shame that is attached to suicide and self-harm.
If you are concerned that your child may be suicidal the best way to find out is to ask them. Parents often worry that asking or talking about suicide or self-harm with their child may make them more likely to engage in the behaviour. This is not the case and speaking with your child about these issues lets them know that you care about them and that struggling and asking for help is okay. If you are worried that your child is self-harming or experiencing thoughts of suicide some indicators are:
- They may withdraw from family and friends.
- They may have difficulties related to eating or sleeping.
- They may have frequent mood swings.
- They may behave recklessly.
- You may notice a decline in their school work or attendance.
- They may make use of drugs and alcohol.
- They may give away their belongings to others.
- They may talk about feeling hopeless or trapped.
- They may talk about how they are a burden to others or feel that they don’t belong anywhere.
- They may talk about suicide or express a wish to die.
- They may write or draw about suicide or they may act it out within their play.
There are certain risk factors that make a young person more vulnerable to suicide and self-harm. These include:
- A family history or suicide/self-harm.
- Bullying at school.
- Access to things such as pills or knives which they can use to commit suicide or self-harm.
- Struggling with a pre-existing mental health disorder.
- Abusing drugs and alcohol.
- Struggling with sexual orientation in an environment which may not be accepting of certain sexual orientations.
- A lack of social support.
- Stigma associated with asking for help, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of guilt or shame and low self-esteem.
Self Harm related to Suicide?
Support for Families & Friends
Supporting somebody with suicidal ideations can be an extremely challenging and anxious time. We can help you support someone you care about by providing education and information or by provision of 1:1 therapy.