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  1. #1

    Self-Injury Awareness day

    SELF-INJURY AWARENESS DAY- March 1, 2006

    Here are links to sites in the UK, US, and CA discussing this day, as well as links to related aspects of self-injury that might be of interest.

    UK: Self Injury Awareness Day



    SIAD 2006 is March 1
    SIAD is a global awareness day, and yet it is not supported by any nations' governments, because it is a grass-roots idea.

    Somehow, in the mists of time, the date was set as the 1st of March, and organisations around the world make extra efforts to raise awareness ready for SIAD.

    In 2005, New Mexico declared 1st March as SIAD officially.

    The link above from LifeSIGNS offers six ways of raising awarness about SIAD and self-injury in general. This is LifeSIGNS' mission statement:

    We are a voluntary organisation that raises awareness about the syndrome of self injury in the UK and beyond. LifeSIGNS provides much needed information and training to organisations; offering unique services not available from any other voluntary organisations. We believe that self harm is a coping mechanism that people turn to in order to deal with their emotional distress; we don't ever tell people to stop, but we do support people as they choose to move away from self injury. We know what self injury is from the inside.
    The site offers several fact sheets that might be of interest:



    Some more info:

    15 Minute Rule
    When the urge to self injure comes upon you, check the time, and tell yourself that you have felt the urge, but you are going to choose to hold off on any self harming behaviour for 15 minutes; if after this period of 15 minutes, you still feel like self injuring, then you can.

    For the duration of this 15 minute 'waiting period' try and keep yourself occupied, go for a walk, flick through the TV without watching anything, or write down the cause of your distress, write a letter to yourself about your feelings. After 15 minutes, you can check how you feel, and how you feel about the urge. You could choose to hurt yourself now, or you could choose to wait another 15 minutes. You can keep playing this 15 minute game, and maybe the urge will pass, maybe not, but it's your choice at every 15 minute step. If you get through the urge and manage not to hurt yourself, perhaps you can call a friend and tell them (provided that they know about your SI) or call one anyways to get their support and encouragement even if they don't know all the details. Reward yourself in some way.

    The site also has links to
    Alternative Coping Methods
    Getting Help
    Precursors to Self-Injury

    US: American Self-Harm Information Clearinghouse (ASHIC)
    Approximately 1% of the United States population uses physical self-injury as a way of dealing with overwhelming feelings or situations, often using it to speak when no words will come. Despite the fact that self-injury is far from rare, myths and misunderstanding surround this psychological ailment -- mistaken ideas that often result in self-harmers being treated badly by police, doctors, therapists, and emergency room personnel.

    In response to society's mistaken ideas about self-harm, the American Self-Harm Information Clearinghouse was created to educate and inform medical and mental health professionals, the media, and the general public, sorting myth from fact and explaining what is known about self-harm. One of ASHIC's major projects is National Self-Injury Awareness Day. In this grassroots effort, people across the country and the world whose lives have been affected by self-injury deliver fact sheets, reports, and brochures to those who make decisions about the treatment of those who self-harm.

    How You Can Help Raise Awareness
    Unofficial Bill of Rights for Those Who Self-Injure
    Ways to Help Yourself Right Now

    CA: Self Abuse Finally Ends (SAFE in CA)
    What happens during an episode of self-abuse?
    Self-abuse doesn't "just happen". It is part of a recurring cycle of responses to what the self-abusive person perceives as crises. S.A.F.E. in Canada refers to these perceived crises as "triggers". Between the triggering event and the self-abusive reaction are the largely unconscious and automatic processes of thought, feelings and self-talk. It is by understanding these processes that people who self-abuse, and the people who wish to help them, can come to an understanding of themselves and their self-abusive behaviours.

    a) Triggers
    Trigger events are invariably associated with perceptions of:
    • being rejected by someone who is important to them
    • being blamed for something over which they had no real control
    • being inadequate
    • being "wrong" in some way


    b) Thoughts
    Self- injury is subject to cognitive distortion, people:
    • jump to conclusions
    • overgeneralize
    • catastrophize
    • experience "black/white" thinking


    c) Feelings
    Self-abusive people experience both volatile and exaggerated emotional responses to trigger events. Because their emotions are so strongly influenced by the reactions of people around them they may be unable to identify, explain or moderate their own emotional responses. They become lost in their feelings and desperate to find a way of relieving them. At this point in the cycle self-abuse becomes a real possibility. It may be the only way that they have learned to relieve the overwhelming emotions.

    d) Self-talk
    What people who self-injure say to themselves, and about themselves, as they attempt to solve problems is invariably harshly critical and destructive. It may include elements such as
    • you're hopeless
    • you'll never be able to do this
    • you'll never get better
    • no-one will ever believe you
    • no-one will ever want to help you


    There are rarely any positive, supportive self-talk statements to counterbalance these self-defeating comments.

    e) Reactions
    When self-abuse occurs in reaction to a triggering event or problem there will usually be a significant calming of the overwhelming emotional responses. However, the self-abuse is not an adequate response to the trigger itself. The problem has not been addressed constructively and may become even more urgent. Now the troubled person has more than one problem: the damage caused by the self-abuse, the reactions of people and professionals to the self-abuse and the original trigger event or problem. Like a broken record they may get "stuck", repeating the cycle, inflicting more and more damage and feeling more and more hopeless and helpless.

    What can be done to help?
    During a recent study of people who have been able to stop self-abusing the participants told us what helped them. Each participant had unique experiences but some very powerful lessons arise from the common themes identified.

    a) Hope
    Self-abusive behaviour is supported by an environment in which people feel worthless, powerless and hopeless. They react to these feelings by lapsing into increasingly self-abusive behaviours and in the process alienate family, friends and professionals.

    Hope for improvement and for control over their lives is the ingredient identified as most important in reducing and eventually discontinuing self-abuse.

    b) Non-judgmental acceptance
    People who self-abuse are incredibly sensitive to the feelings of those around them. They are able to "pick up on" the frustration, anger and rejection of others. They expect this and are looking for it.

    People who will be able to help are those who are able to understand that self-abuse does not constitute a flaw of character but is a problem-solving device that soothes the painful feelings but makes life more difficult at the same time.

    c) Companions on the journey
    Although it may not always be possible to supply people who self-abuse with the companionship of others who have had, and have defeated, a problem with self-abuse it is essential that they see helpers as companions on a difficult journey and not as authority figures with power to control their lives.

    It is equally crucial that helpers see themselves in the same way.

    d) Understanding the behaviour
    Both helpers and clients need to accept the fact that self-abuse is soothing. It is also a way to maintain some sense of control over painful experiences and problems of living.

    e) Learning healthy ways of self-soothing
    Since people who self-injure have never learned how to soothe themselves in healthy ways they need to be shown that a variety of strategies can be used effectively. They need to be helped to create a list of such strategies to use when urges to self-abuse come.

    When first introduced to this concept they will often resist, saying "that doesn't work". They need to be encouraged to keep trying, to work through several of their strategies before they "give up" and self-abuse.

    f) Dealing with "trigger" events
    Raising to conscious awareness the cycle of response to a trigger event gives opportunities:
    • to discover what "triggers" the individual
    • to challenge the cognitive distortions
    • to identify and deal with the emotional reactions
    • to formulate a variety of alternative strategies to deal with the trigger event
    • to choose one of these alternatives and act on it


    Consistent use of this process will allow the person to feel more positive about their abilities to solve problems. They will feel stronger and more competent.

    (Note: conributed by and posted at the request of Eunoia)

  2. #2

    Re: Self-Injury Awareness day

    When self-abuse occurs in reaction to a triggering event or problem there will usually be a significant calming of the overwhelming emotional responses. However, the self-abuse is not an adequate response to the trigger itself. The problem has not been addressed constructively and may become even more urgent. Now the troubled person has more than one problem: the damage caused by the self-abuse, the reactions of people and professionals to the self-abuse and the original trigger event or problem. Like a broken record they may get "stuck", repeating the cycle, inflicting more and more damage and feeling more and more hopeless and helpless.

    This seems to be true for me. I feel so ashamed and disgusted about doing this. But it doesn't seem to stop me. It does just seem to add to the problem. And I think sometimes that I've already so scarred myself that it doesn't matter. But I guess it does matter somehow. I don't know for sure.

    Anyway, this is a good article.

  3. #3

    Re: Self-Injury Awareness day

    Thanks for posting this article David. I went over to the life signs site and was pleased to see that people are making an effort to help spread awarness about SI. I ordered one of the bracelets that read "SI Awareness", I want to do my part in helping to raise awareness.
    &quot;How grateful I was then to be part of the mystery, to love and to be loved. Lets just hope that is enough.&quot;<br />-Conor Oberst

  4. #4

    Re: Self-Injury Awareness day

    The thanks should go to Eunoia - she found the information and emailed it to me to post.

  5. #5

    Re: Self-Injury Awareness day

    Thanks Eunoia!
    &quot;How grateful I was then to be part of the mystery, to love and to be loved. Lets just hope that is enough.&quot;<br />-Conor Oberst

  6. #6

    Re: Self-Injury Awareness day

    thanks for posting this for me David.

    Janet- I agree that a big problem is that the was we cope sometimes just adds to all the other problems... I was thinking about this the other day actually, and I realized that si for example seems so "right" in the moment and then just adds to all the problems in the LT b/c now you're dealing w/ that too... espec. if no one else knows. I guess hence why it's not a good coping mechanism in the 1st place.

    mia- you're welcome. spreading awareness about something you have been personally affected by or know someone who has been been affected by it is a great way to "get the word out there" if you're comfortable enough to do so... it kind of also allows you a chance to be "honest" in that way- again if you're comfortable doing so. good for you!

  7. #7

    Re: Self-Injury Awareness day

    Thanks Eunoia
    &quot;How grateful I was then to be part of the mystery, to love and to be loved. Lets just hope that is enough.&quot;<br />-Conor Oberst

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