Today, March 1st, 2023, marks the occasion of Self-Injury Awareness Day. My Mind News examines what this means and why it is important.
What is Self-Injury Awareness Day?
Self-Injury Awareness Day (or ‘SIAD’) is a global awareness event celebrated each year on March 1st. It draws attention to self-harm in the hope of helping people who practice it. This is a growing global issue and needs highlighting.
It is reported that almost two million Americans engage in self-harm. Worldwide, About 17% of people will self-harm during their lifetime. People who self-harm say that it gives them a feeling of control and release from tension.
On Self-Injury Awareness Day, people can share their self-harm stories, which can help them find a community of people who understand and can help them overcome it. Mental health organizations also make extra efforts to raise awareness about self-harm and self-injury, with some even offering free therapy sessions on the day.
History of Self-Injury Awareness Day
The origin and history of Self-injury Awareness Day are unknown. People wear an orange ribbon, a butterfly on their wrists, or a beaded bracelet to encourage awareness of self-harm. The orange ribbon represents hope for a misread problem. The idea is to eradicate the common clichés surrounding self-harm and to educate medical professionals about it.
Signs of self-harm
Self-harm begins with an express purpose to harm oneself. Self-injury includes skin carving, self-medicating, and abnormal scratching. Burning oneself and punching or hitting walls to create pain are also methods.
Other examples are drinking poisonous chemicals, radical skin picking, pulling hair, and purposely interfering with wound healing. Warning signs include isolation, avoiding social interactions, and baggy clothing to hide wounds.
Further signs are finding sharp instruments such as razors in strange places, constant excuses for cuts on arms, stomach, and legs, and locking themselves in the bathroom or bedroom for long periods of time.
The mental health link to self-harming
Teens are by far the highest statistic for self-harm injury, as studies show that about 15% of teens and 17-35% of students have practiced self-harm. People who engage in self-harm activities often are three-and-a-half times more likely to try suicide.
Depression and self-harm mostly go hand-in-hand. It must, however, be stated that there are many other reasons people self-harm. The vicious cycle recurs because, after the self-injurious act, the individual will be inclined to feel shame or guilt.
This results in significant anguish, leading them to self-injure once again. It is a spiral of shame and guilt, followed by relief and emotional release. Self-Injury Awareness Day aims to get rid of this guilt and break the cycle.
Why is raising awareness about self-injury important?
Awareness leads to understanding and empathy. It banishes judgment and fear and reduces the number of people who suffer in silence. Raising awareness is about educating people who do not self-injure and reaching out to people who do.
Self-injury can occur on any part of the body, though the arms, wrists, thighs, and stomach is the most common areas where people inflict self-harm.
How best to observe Self-Injury Awareness Day
1. Check up on a friend
Sometimes, people can feel alone even when they are surrounded by friends. Use Self-Injury Awareness Day to check up on a friend who might be struggling. Remind them that you are there for them and act as a support system for them
2. Wear an orange ribbon
The orange ribbon is the official ribbon for Self-Injury Awareness Day. You can add an orange ribbon to your outfit to show your support for the cause and signify that you are a safe person for them to talk to.
3. Speak to a professional
Even though people who self-harm often need friends and support systems that they can rely on, nothing beats help from a certified professional. If you or someone you know frequently engages in cutting or other self-harm practices, feel free to sign up to talk to a mental health professional who can help you gain control without harming yourself.
Five things you need to know about self-harming
1. It’s not an accident. Self-harm is intentional, purposeful behavior.
Why Self-Injury Awareness Day is important
Self-Injury Awareness Day is all about showing people who self-harm that they are not alone.
They can also find professionals who can help them with their struggles and guide them.
My Mind News encourages everyone to engage with self-injury awareness day. If you know of someone that needs help, don’t just leave it to others.
If you have been affected by the contents of this article and need further information or links to resources, the following charities can help –
- Alumina (previously Self Harm UK) is a free online self-harm support group for young people aged 11 to 19.
- Harmless supports people who self-harm and their families and friends.
- LifeSIGNS provides information and support to people who are ready to find new ways to cope other than self-harm. They have produced a helpful book and factsheets for parents and guardians, friends, males, healthcare workers, teachers, and employers.
- Mind has information and signposting for people who self-harm and their families, as well as useful contacts.
- Self Injury Support offers information and support to women and girls affected by self-harm.
- Young Minds has information and signposting for young people who self-harm.
- Zest provides counseling, support, and information to people in Northern Ireland who self-harm.