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It's important to look for signs of self-harm

Hannah Xu

Among the many mental health issues that have been on the rise in recent years is self-harming behaviors, where people engage in cutting, burning, or otherwise injuring themselves. These behaviors stem from a wide variety of motivations, and often seem confusing and counterintuitive to others. In general, these actions stem from poor coping skills and difficulty in managing emotions. But the complexity behind both the emotional and behavioral issues causing the self-harm, as well as the types of ways that the harm manifests, can make it very difficult to understand, even for the person hurting themselves.

With self-injury, people may be trying to accomplish a number of different results, from providing themselves a distraction from their emotional pain, to creating a sensation that allows them to feel anything at all when they otherwise feel emotionally empty. In times when their world feels out of control, self-harm may allow them to at least be in control over their own body. Or they may be attempting to punish themselves for perceived faults imposed on them by authority figures or friends.

Self-harm is not limited to a particular gender or age group. So, if you notice scars or fresh wounds, especially in patterns, someone wearing long-sleeves even in warm weather, or a person keeping sharp objects with them regularly, these may be signs that they are self-harming. If you see these signs, please reach out to them and try to connect. And encourage them to seek help.

Links to mental health resources are at MHANational.org.

Eric Litwiller has served the south central Kansas community through his work at Mental Health Association since September of 2017. As Director of Development and Communications, he is charged with seeking the private investment required to raise awareness of the scope of mental health concerns throughout the region in an effort to eliminate the unfair stigma associated with mental illness.