Hope For The Journey

A Trauma Therapist
Shares Common
Myths Of Self Harm

Anyone regardless of age, gender, culture, or background, might experience self-harm thoughts or behaviors. It is easy to misunderstand the reasons for self-harm, due to the various myths and attitudes about it. These myths unintentionally add another layer of shame and guilt to the people who engage in self-harm behaviors or thoughts. Moreover, with this blog, I will be discussing common myths that society holds towards self-harm and hope that it helps to increase awareness and hopefully decreases the stigma.


Before we dive in, I would like to provide a trigger warning, due to the topic of self-harm and suicide being discussed throughout this blog. Please take care of yourself and take breaks as needed.


Myth About Self Harm #1: Talking About Suicide Or Self-harm Increases The Risk

Topics like suicide and self-harm are considered taboo in many households and in our society today. We are aware that these things exist, but we hope that it never happens to us or the people we love. However, not addressing the problem adds to the stigma and impacts the rate at which people do not seek support. Additionally, talking about suicide and self-harm does not plant the idea that was not there before. People who experience suicidal thoughts or self-harm feel fearful of being judged, so having these open conversations about what they are feeling helps them to free relieved and supported.


Myth About Self Harm #2: Self-harm is a Suicide Attempt


The practice of self-harm does not mean that someone is attempting suicide. People self-harm for many different reasons. This may include wanting to release the feeling that they are not in control, distracting themselves from having to feel hard feelings, communicating distress, etc. However, without safety measures in place, it can possibly lead to unintentional or life-threatening injury.



Myth About Self Harm #3: Self-harm Is Attention Seeking


Again, there are various reasons that people may self-harm. Most often, people use it as a means to relieve overwhelming emotions that are too difficult to feel. Sometimes, it is a way of turning anger inward or punishing oneself (because they cannot bear disappointing or inconveniencing their loved ones or others). Provided below are some other examples of why someone may self-harm.


  • Coping with icky emotions
  • Managing upsetting thoughts
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Trying to feel less numb
  • Expressing distress, due to not knowing how to share their feelings
  • Providing a way to care for themselves by tending to their own wounds


There is a lot of shame and guilt that comes with self-harm. Thus, self-harm is an act that is done in private and is a hidden behavior that you may not be aware of, unless they share that information with you. This is why it is important that we treat people who seek help and support following self-harm with compassion and respect.

Myth About Self Harm #4: Self-Harm Should Be Stopped Immediately


Of course, the ideal goal of self-harm is to stop it completely. However that is not a realistic goal, because it is a long process for someone who has used self-harm as a way to manage distress throughout their life. Telling someone to just stop self-harming will not work and can possibly cause them to isolate further. They may even find a more dangerous way to cope with their stress and it can lead to them feeling that they are a failure if they are unable to stop. Reduction of self-harm starts with reducing the use of damaging methods and helping them to feel safe to share their feelings without being judged.



Are You Or a Loved One Suffering From Self Harming Behaviors?

Our team of caring therapists are ready to help if you are struggling. Our highly skilled clinicians will welcome you with warmth and understanding. This no longer has to feel like a taboo or too “scary” to talk about. To start therapy with Hope For the Journey, please follow these simple steps:

1. Contact Hope for the Journey

2. Meet with a caring therapist

3. Start receiving the support you or your teen deserve.

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