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Self Harm Awareness: Know The Facts

Self Harm Awarness Month is an internationally recognized movement to help spread the word and gain support for those who need it. According to a study by Shek & Lu (2011), 33% of high school students in Hong Kong reported one form of deliberate self harm - this number is only increasing. Raising awareness on this matter is important to help parents, educators and young people understand, empathize, and negate judgement. Know the signs, understand the facts and learn support strategies - read our fact sheet to find out more and about how you can help.

What is Self Harm?

Self Harm or Self Injury is a deliberate behaviour that inflicts physical injury to a person’s own body – it is often seen as a coping mechanism which enables an individual to deal with intense emotional distress. It can take all manner of forms; from cutting, burning and scratching, to hair pulling and ingesting harmful substances.  Often, suffering individuals feel that the physical pain is easier to deal with than the emotional distress causing the action. They may feel that they have control of this behaviour.  Although instant releif may be felt, the results are temporary and the underlying cause persists.

90% of self harm begins in adolescence.  However, evidence shows that self harm is affecting children at a younger age than ever before.  Raising awarenss on the matter is important in helping people to understand, empathise and negate judgement.  We want to help reduce the number of suffers are help them gain the support they need. 


Ignore The Misconceptions; Know The Facts

  • It is not a mental illness.
  • Self harm is not merely attention seeking behaviour.
  • Stopping this behaviour takes time and effort. It is not easy.
  • Boys are as affected as girls, but research shows they do not communicate in this matter as much.
  • Self harm is not a fad, social statement or phase that a young person will grow out of.
  • Adults are affected too, not just young people.
  • Don’t judge the magnitude of social distress by the severity of the behaviour.


How You Can Help

  • Keep open all lines of communication.
  • Don’t judge. Be supportive.
  • Let your child know you are there for them. Don’t be surprised or pushy if they are not ready to talk immediately.
  • Continue to respect their privacy. Often this behaviour is secretive and personal, sharing the details or the scars may be overwhelming.
  • Encourage them to make positive changes in their lives and in their behaviour. 
  • Take the matter very seriously.
  • Be patient. Recovery can take some time.
  • Seek treatment. Find a counsellor (our team at BFDC are experienced in dealing with suicide prevention and self harm and will be able to help)
  • Work with the counsellor or psychologist to help them to find healther coping mechanisms.
  • Understand the cause. Ask appropriate questions about emotional distress – don’t focus on the injury.
  • Take care of yourself. We understand the difficulties of supporting someone you love – don’t be ashamed to seek support for yourself.