Stop Romanticizing Self Harm

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Being romantic and/or tragically beautiful is what few people would disguise it as. But in accuracy and consciousness, all that the practice of self harm really is, is sad and cause of serious concern. The sad practice of intentional self harming, unfortunately, enjoys evasion of serious attention from the common eye and mind primarily on account of the fact that most of such cases go un reported , thus unnoticed. However, it’s high time that we realize that this practice needs to be curbed with all might before the percentage of people falling under the category of “intentional self harmers” reaches an alarming level.

What’s interesting about this practice is that it has a strong link to our social setup. Say, for instance, the youth who engage in this unfavorable act due to unemployment. There are, of course, a few other causes that are more direct to this activity like sense of failure, low self esteem, self loathing, sense of abandonment and loneliness, stressful situations and occurrence of emotionally shattering events and emotions of anger along with feeling insulted. Many have termed the practice of intentional self harming as an attention seeking behavior. However, considering that most of those who engage in this sort of behavior usually conceal their self harm injuries and provide alternative reasons as to how those wounds were inflicted, the urge to relieve emotional pain by substituting it with a physical one becomes one of the most relatable and direct reasons of self harming behavior.

What’s worrying is the fact that it is the youth that receives the most severe brunt of this sad activity amongst all the classes of the population. Study reveals that early teenagers and people in their early twenties are the worst affected. There is an increased risk of people engaging in intentional self harm who are suffering from Borderline personality disorder, Bipolar disorder, Conduct disorder or Munchausen’s syndrome.

We are all aware of the increasing rate of substance abuse as well as suicides in our country as well as in our own state of Jammu and Kashmir. Although, substance abuse is considered by many to come under a separate paradigm, one cannot turn his eyes away from the fact that in most cases the cause of substance abuse is the person looking for a distraction from emotional pain which is also the basic cause of a person engaging in self harm. Also, the probability of a person engaging in self harm to become suicidal is very high

Perhaps, the most dangerous attribute of self harming behavior is its tendency to become addictive. A person may become affirmative of the fact that by inflicting injuries to his own self, one can be relieved of his/her emotional pain and stress. When a person inflicts physical damage to himself, the brain releases endorphins which act as natural pain killers and provide a soothing and relieving sensation to the person. A person may thus become addictive to this behavior and constantly engage in self harming activities time and time again. Ironically, some people engage in this awful behavior for the sheer acclimation of their masculinity. On a personal account, I have seen many guys inflicting/wounds to their arms or burn their arms with cigarettes just to impress a girl into accepting them in a romantic relationship. Another factor that magnifies the irony is wrongful encouragement from friends and fellows who praise the person for his display of masculinity.

It is needed to effectively recognize the source were the self harming thoughts emerge from. Cognitive behavioral therapy exists to assist those with Axis1 diagnosis such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder dialectical behavior therapy has been successful in helping those who exhibit personality disorders. Those who have been recognized as ‘’self harm patients’’ should be encouraged to spend more and more time in activities as sports and the like that are physically as well as mentally involving and provide a boost to positive emotions. Proper parenting plays a very important role in curbing this menace. We should not over burden our children and not put loads of expectations on their shoulders because in that case if they are not able to meet all expectations, feeling of self loathing and worthlessness may creep into their minds paving the way for self harming and other unfavorable activities.

We can conduct anger management programmes in order to train people especially the young adults, how to deal with feelings of intense anger and disgust. Along with this, emotionally we constructing speeches and programmes can be held which provide reassurance and are empathetic to those who have experienced emotional or sexual abuse at any point of time in their times. Extreme criticism should be discouraged and as individuals we should try our level best to ensure that we make every effort to replace any bad memories of our friends, family and the people around us with good ones, help those who have lost their self esteem by assisting them in reestablishing themselves. We should try and work to ensure that nobody suffers from feelings of abandonment and loneliness and does not resort to intentional self harming and other similar negative actions. All negativity shall be replaced with positivity and clear optimism.

I hope that on and from March1 (designated as Self Injury Awareness Day ) we all come to the port front in order to get rid of this silent killer that is creeping in our society in the background of all the other major issues as the sad act of intentional self harming possesses the evil tendency to escape the common eye by going unreported and thus, unnoticed.   

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