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The Signs of Self Harm

The Signs of Self Harm

A theme I am seeing more and more in my office is that self harm is on the rise. The idea of a person injuring themselves can provoke fear in those around them because the act itself is so counter intuitive. Generally speaking, people move toward pleasure and away from pain. So when a person is moving toward pain, this can cause people to be rightly very concerned.

Some signs of self harm are:

  • Scars, such as from burns or cuts
  • Fresh cuts, scratches or other wounds
  • Bruises
  • Hair loss or bald spots
  • Broken bones
  • Keeping sharp objects on hand
  • Spending a great deal of time alone
  • Wearing long sleeves or long pants even in hot weather
  • Claiming to have frequent accidents or mishaps
  • Forms of self-injury

Now of course these are not the only signs, indeed if we are to look more closely at certain eating issues, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, it would be hard to argue that these too are manifestations of self harm. A common theme for those self harming is that they tend to do their harming in secret, so it is often quite a while for loved ones to intervene as they are generally in the dark on the behaviour as it is cleverly concealed.

If you self harm or are worried for someone who may be, intervention is essential. In the first instance, let them know you care and that you are available to listen. As I have said many times, many people in mental distress really just want and need to be heard. When possible try to get the person into some form of therapy, be that through the NHS or the private sector. Self harm can be overcome, it just needs to be caught in time.

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