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March 1st: Bringing Awareness to Self-Injury

Today is Self-Injury Awareness Day and the beginning of Self-Injury Awareness Month. On March 1st each year, we start conversations about self-injury in an effort to increase awareness and decrease stigma.

What is self-injury?

Self-injury, also known as self-harm or self-mutilation, is the intentional act of causing physical harm to oneself. It can take many forms and typically occurs without suicidal intent. Self-injury is classified in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as nonsuicidal self-injury disorder (NSSID).

There are many reasons that people engage in self-injury. Some use it as a coping mechanism that provides temporary relief from overwhelming emotions and stressors, while others use it to combat the emotional numbness they experience. It’s also used to feel a sense of control or as a form of punishment.

What can I do?

  1. Be aware. Self-injury is common. Approximately 14-24% of youth and young adults and 4% of adults engage in self-injury.
  2. Follow #SIAD on your social media platforms to learn more about the experiences of those who have engaged in self-injury.
  3. Look for signs. People who self-injure go to great lengths to hide it. Be on the lookout for warning signs like unexplained injuries, wearing long clothing in warm weather, and engaging in dangerous behavior.
  4. Listen nonjudgmentally and encourage seeking professional help. There’s a lot of stigma and shame around self-injury. If your friend discloses their self-injury to you, listen with an open mind. Offer your unconditional support and love. Be there. Encourage them to seek professional help. Assist them in finding a local mental health professional and, if you’re comfortable, offer to come with them to their first appointment.

If you are in crisis, please contact the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

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