A Silent Cry for Help: Understanding Self-harm

self harmI watched the middle aged waitress at the restaurant assist her customers with their orders, awaiting my turn.  I had seen her there many times, but she usually wore long sleeves.  Today she had on a tee shirt.  I noticed her arms were fully tattooed.  I began to study the tattoos and saw that below the vivid tattoos were raised horizontal scars that extended up the inside of her arm.  The marks looked like that of a former cutter.  The tattoos bore a sad story, of that I was certain.  Now at an older age, she had found a way to hide her past.  Finally it was my turn, “Long road” I said nodding at her arm.  “Yeah, but it’s over now.”  She said with a reassuring smile. She was forever branded by her past.  I left the shop thinking “How can we keep our teens from harming themselves so they don’t have to hide their past when they get older.  How can we hear their silent cries for help?”

So, I decided to write a blog to educate others about self-harming behaviors.

What is Self-harm?

Self-harm is the intentional and deliberate hurting of oneself.  Most commonly it is done by:

  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Hitting
  • Picking at the skin
  • Pulling hair
  • Biting
  • Carving

What are the warning signs?

  • Many cuts/burns on the wrists, arms, legs, back, hips, or stomach
  • Wearing baggy or loose clothe (e.g., wearing hoodies or long sleeves during hot days to conceal the wounds)
  • Always making excuses for having cuts, marks or wounds on the body
  • Finding razors, scissors, lighters or knives in strange places (i.e., the nightstand drawer or under the bed)
  • Spending long periods locked in a bedroom or bathroom
  • Isolation and avoiding social situations

(Article courtesy of Psychology Today, retrieved, 01/09/16)

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