I haven’t got the full list for you, we hope to present 99 frequently asked questions later this year. Right now, here are a few real questions we were asked by a magazine some time ago. The answers are too short to provide the full details, but sometimes brevity is important – the links provide more in-depth information.
Why do people cut themselves?
People resort to hurting themselves (in a variety of ways, not just cutting) in order to deal with, or cope with emotional distress. Self-injury is a coping mechanism; when people feel they have no alternatives left, they can find themselves relying on self-injury to help them cope, to ground themselves and to calm themselves.
Do women tend to cut themselves more then men?
For many years the media have stereotyped self-injury as a female concern, but FirstSigns // LifeSIGNS has always considered the male side of self-injury, and recent London research has shown that there is no gender difference.
We might recognise that men and women talk about things in different ways, and that perhaps men do not seek help and support as much as women, and so male self-injury is under-reported.
Is there an age group where this is more common? Is it more common when you’re 20?
We know people of all ages that self-injure, it’s not just a concern of the young. We might see that statistically, people are vulnerable from teen or pre-teen ages, and that frequency of self-injury may reduce after the age of 30, but we’re only saying that as an example of the statistic; at FirstSigns // LifeSIGNS, we know that self-injury is a very individual matter, and affects people of all ages.
Is there a type of personality that is more prone to cutting themselves? Are there behavioural hints?
Because self-injury is a way of coping, we can talk about a person’s need for control and stability – when a person feels out of control of their emotions and unstable, they can feel the urge to hurt themselves.
People under pressure to perform well, people who strive for perfection, or feel that they never perform well enough can find themselves turning to self-injury.
Many people who self-injure have low self-esteem, even if they appear happy and confident on the outside. People who are chronically criticised and run-down can feel desperately unworthy.
What is the onset of cutting yourself? Why do people start cutting?
Everyone I’ve spoken to has a unique story; the majority of people believed that they were the only ones in the world who were hurting themselves like this. They might have spent many years trapped, lonely and afraid, unable to tell anyone about their self-injury for fear of their reaction.
I started hurting myself at a young age because I was desperately unhappy with my home life; I felt I had no worth, no freedom, no understanding, and no voice. I used self-injury as a way to express the confusing emotions I was experiencing, and I way to get past them.
Can it be triggered by depression or a disorder?
People who self-injure may experience depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD or personality disorders, however, self-injury alone is not indicative of such medical / psychological issues – people can be unhappy and stressed without a medical disorder of course.
Is it triggered by stress?
It certainly can be! In times of stress, a person can run out of coping methods, and find themselves acutely upset, and so they feel triggered to hurt themselves to gain release.
What do people cut themselves with?
FirstSigns // LifeSIGNS does not focus on the methodology of self-injury; the important thing is to remember there is a distressed human being behind the self-injurious behaviour. People will hurt themselves with whatever they prefer, or whatever is available.
How often do people hurt themselves?
Everyone is different, and hurts themselves in different ways; some people self-injure once a week, once a month, or several times throughout the day.
How can you help someone who you know is cutting themselves?
If they are a friend, then be a good friend to them! You don’t have to focus on the self-injury (which is an incredibly difficult thing to talk about) you can talk about ‘how they’re doing’ and how they are feeling. Let them know that you care and respect them; don’t lay down rules or demand that they ‘cheer up’ or ‘stop’.
What is usually the treatment for something like this?
There is no ideal treatment; each person should address the things in life that make them so unhappy, and drive them to self-injure.
Help and support should be made available; some people find CBT / DBT counselling useful, while others benefit from psychiatric care and medication.
Everyone on the planet has mental health, some years, some days, it’s better than at other times. We all need to seek health and happiness on a daily basis, and care for ourselves and others.