Why do some people inflict physical pain on themselves as a way to manage their emotions? Experts say 15% of adolescents self-harm, but what’s the impact of this coping strategy?
We all experience negative emotions and find different ways to cope – maybe by exercising or by listening to music. But some people deliberately inflict pain on themselves as a way of managing how they feel. Why? Experts believe 15% of adolescents self-injure at least once, with some children as young as 9 using self-injury as a coping mechanism, albeit an unhealthy one. The behaviour can lead to feelings of guilt and distress; family and friends often don’t know how to help. Catherine Carr explores the impact self-harming has on those who do it and those close to them.
She speaks to Matthew Nock, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University who explains the type of person most at risk of engaging in self-injury and the reasons why they use it to regulate their emotions.
News reporter, Aidan Radnedge, describes why he began self-harming at university; and how his family and friends have given unstinting support throughout his road to recovery.
Writer and editor, Janelle Harris, explains what it was like to discover that her daughter, Skylar, was self-harming aged 11. Now 18 and having graduated from high school, Skylar is no longer injuring herself and is looking forward to going to college next year.
Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Priory Group of mental health hospitals and clinics in the UK, offers advice for parents on how to react if their children are self-harming – and offers alternative coping strategies for those struggling to deal with their feelings.
If you’ve been affected by the issues in this programme, please visit the following websites for support and advice:
Befrienders Worldwide: http://www.befrienders.org/about-self-harm
Talk Life: https://talklife.co/
Presenter: Catherine Carr
Producer: Sally Abrahams
(Image: Sad beautiful girl, Credit: Wayhome studio/Shutterstock)