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Self Harm and Suicide

Seeing a loved one harming themselves deliberately is frightening - especially when we don’t understand why they are hurting themselves. How can we know that they aren’t going to take it further?

The key and significant difference between self harm and a suicide attempt is the intent behind the action. The majority of those who self harm report that they haven’t considered suicide.

Someone who is suicidal doesn’t see a way out and so desires to end their life - they feel like there is no escape from the pain they are experiencing. They no longer want to be a burden on loved ones. They don’t see another way out. They want the hurt to stop. Suicide attempts are mostly infrequent and involve extreme methods.

Someone who self harms uses the pain as a way to cope with life or as a way to feel alive, to break through the numbness. Self harming gives a rush as the body seeks to deal with the pain - this can be addictive and lead to a person using self harm as a habitual way to deal with stress. One self harmer describes the wounds and scars, “they are there to prove that they still have life and hope.”

Whatever the intention, if someone is harming themselves - seriously or superficially - that person is experiencing intense emotional pain and they need professional support. They need help to work through the root causes of their distress.

It’s important to remember that someone who self harms may go on to experience suicidal feelings or it may lead to accidental death. A professional can help assess the likelihood of suicide in a person that self harms. Too, that someone who is experiencing suicidal feelings may not self harm and so checking in with our friends and family and how they are feeling is so important. The warning signs should never be ignored. If you are worried about someone say something.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the issues, there is help available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1 800 273 8255 - any time, 24/7. For more information on these topics, email us - info@livempowered.org - and we will share resources with you.

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