Self-Injury Awareness Day 1st March

What is Self-Injury Awareness Day?

For over 20 years the 1st March has been international day for awareness and recognising self-injury it is a day that is recognised globally.

Self-Injury describes any behaviour which involves a person purposefully damaging their body by cutting, burning, scratching or practicing any other behaviour that results in pain or injury.

Any behaviour that causes harm or injury to an individual as a way to deal with difficult emotions can be seen as self-injury.

  • Self-Injury is something that can affect anyone no matter what age however it is a very common behaviour in young people and affects around one in 12 people, with 10% of 15-16 year olds self-injuring however it is recognised it could be high as 20% of 15-16 year olds
  • Studies have found that 6.4% of 16-74-year olds in England report as having self-harmed at some point in their lives (McManus, Gunnell, Cooper et al, 2019). However, this is probably an under-estimate of how common self-harm is, as many instances go unreported.
  • The same study found that only around 50% of those who had self-harmed had received psychological support or treatment for this.
  • A 2017 study found that annual rates of self-harm for girls aged 10 to 19 was at 37 per 10,000 girls and 12.3 per 10,000 boys of the same age (Morgan, Webb, Carr et al, 2017).
  • Self-harm can affect people of all ages and walks of life; however, rates are highest amongst young women, those who live alone, and those who are unemployed (mentalhealth.org.uk).

Why do people self-injure

There are no fixed rules about why people self-injure. It really can be very different for everyone. For some people, self-injury is linked to specific experiences and is a way of dealing with something that’s either happening at the moment or which happened in the past. For others, the reasons are less clear and can be harder to make sense of.

Some people can manage these troubles by talking to friends and family, where others may find these difficulties overwhelming. The pressure can build up and become to much to cope with and this is where people often harm themselves when this gets too much.

The reasons for self-injury

Individuals may find that they self-injure when they feel angry, distressed, worried or depressed. Each individuals’ reasons to self-injure can be very different from other people. Young people have reported triggers/reasons that lead them to self-injure which include:

  • difficulties at home
  • arguments or problems with friends
  • school pressures
  • bullying
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • low self-esteem
  • transitions and changes, such as changing schools
  • alcohol and drug use.

When a few of these issues come together they can quickly feel overwhelming and become too much for one person to deal with.

Raising awareness

Raising awareness about self-injury is very important, it leads to understanding and empathy, gets rid of judgement and fear and reduces the number of people who feel alone and suffer in silence.

We should educate our young people so they have understanding, have empathy, not feel alone and feel confident in knowing where to go for support.

Links to support, guidance and resources:

Life signs – Self-Injury Guidance & Network Support

Mind – For better mental health

Young Minds