Wedge asked me if I’d like to write a few words on what I wish SIAD (Self-Injury Awareness Day) meant and achieved. It’s taken me some time, because like so many wishes they’re not always met. And we do achieve so much every single year so I don’t want to sound negative. But, I do feel we still have a long way to go before we’ve changed the world. And that, of course, is our ultimate ambition!

I suppose ideally I’d like for SIAD to mean as much to people as all those other awareness days that everyone’s heard of, and for more people to want to be involved – not just the people personally affected by self-injury. I’d wish for it to be a huge international event that literally everyone has heard of and wants to show support for.

I’d also wish for the media to take more of an interest and to be happy to promote SIAD without the need for a specific ‘newsworthy’ angle to tackle it from. I mean, the fact that people are deliberately hurting themselves in order to cope with their lives / emotional distress should be newsworthy enough.

I’d also like for there to be more interest in older people and males who self-injure. The day a journalist contacts us about SIAD and asks if we have a male over 25 who they can talk to I shall literally jump with joy.

It’s difficult to judge how much SIAD achieves but it’s perhaps more than I think. Considering the number of people who’ve emailed asking for more information, for our posters and for our fact sheets, there’s definitely an increasing interest year after year. This is fantastic, but it would be nice to know exactly how many people are reached by SIAD, especially people who’d never heard of it before.

We’ve sold loads of our funky wristbands and key rings, and I’m thrilled with the support our members have shown in purchasing them. I’m also touched by the number of people who’ve contacted us telling us about their SIAD plans for school and college. But there are also the ones who’ve had their plans vetoed by teachers and this saddens me. It also makes me angry, but I’m not here to rant just now!

I just wish all people were free to raise awareness. I wish schools would not only support SIAD, but actively promote it as part of their ‘pupil wellbeing’ policy. I wish people could understand that pretending something doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so; it just forces it into secrecy and increases the shame, distress and loneliness in those for whom self-injury is their only way of coping.

I wish employers too would learn about self-injury and what it might mean for staff who are hurting themselves. Self-injury can affect anyone, and so everyone should care and be interested. In an ideal world that is!

I guess my wish is that come 2nd March there are a lot more people who know about self-injury, its causes and the fact that it can affect anyone at any time in their lives. I’d like for fewer people to feel alone and unheard. I’d like for more people to care. And I’d like for more people who self-injure to feel empowered to make positive choices and seek out healthier coping mechanisms, while getting all the support they need from their family, friends, teachers, employers and healthcare professionals.

It’s a lot to ask, and it isn’t going to happen in one day, but we’re certainly getting there :)

How about you? What does SIAD mean to you and what would you like it to achieve?

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