Social Media’s Influence on Self Harm
There are various ways in which people get their feelings of frustration, anxiety, sadness, anger, etc. out. Some people exercise, some write, or some just need a good venting session. However, there are some people who engage in self-harm or self-injurious behaviors.
According to MedLine Plus (2019), “self-harm or self-injury is when a person hurts his or her own body on purpose, it can be minor or severe, and may leave permanent scars or cause serious health problems.”
People injure themselves in a variety of ways. This can range from picking or scratching the skin, cutting, small burns, pulling hair out, punching walls or hard objects, etc. Engaging in these behaviors usually makes people feel better as they have experienced difficulty processing or expressing themselves. They may have experience previous trauma, suffer from mental illness, or may be going through a rough time. “Sometimes, injuring yourself stimulates the body’s endorphins or pain-killing hormones, thus raising their mood or to replace emotional numbness” (NAMI, 2019). Self-harming is not the same as suicide, however, it may increase the risk of suicide.
People who self-harm often hide their cuts and bruises, which makes it hard to recognize. It is often not noticeable that someone engaging in self-harm. You may notice that they wear long-sleeves, wear Band-Aids, or they may hurt themselves in hard to see places such as the upper thigh. “Once a person injures herself, she may experience shame and guilt, which leads to negative feelings, and, the behavior can thus become a dangerous cycle and a long-time habit” (NAMI, 2019).
In addition to dealing with one’s own emotions, there has been another layer added to self-harm.
Social media is a place where people share their lives, interest, and dislikes. Unfortunately, in the world of self-harm, social media has become a place of influence. Just like searching for a recipe, hair style, or outfit ideas, you are now able to view self-harming ideas. I am not talking about examples that may be posted for educational purposes. There are actually people who are encouraging self-harm and suicide amongst each other, especially teenagers. This can easily be found through a Google or hashtag search.
This is why I have joined this movement with Casey Street of caseystreetx.com to shed light on this topic. Also, she has created a petition the images available that promote self-harming and suicide. You can view the petition here:
If someone who is self-harming or having suicidal thoughts confides in you, listen to them and let them know that there are people who care about them. Be open to their thoughts and do not judge their emotions or behaviors. Encourage them to express thei r emotions instead of self-harming. Please encourage them to get help.
Here are some resources to turn to:
-S.A.F.E. Alternatives (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) – Organization dedicated to helping people who self-harm, with a helpline at 1-800-366-8288.
-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-799-4889 TTY (For Hearing and Speech Impaired with TTY Equipment)
-Text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States.
NAMI. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-conditions/related-conditions/self-harm
Self-Harm. (2019, February 07). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/selfharm.html