Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
— Bernard M. Baruch
The only way to have a friend is to be one.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important as remembering.
— William James
Anonymous asked: Hi, Please could you direct me to some information regarding open self injury in young (24year old) women. The girl has apparently been openly punching herself in the face within view of colleagues, whilst aware of being watched. It's obvious that something is very wrong, but whilst I've seen self harm before, this seems rather specific. I'm not a close friend, but have been asked for guidance as to how to best address sympathetically. Thanks for your help. x
Because self-injurious behaviour can be something people of all ages and all genders turn to, I’ll focus on the core of your question, which I think is about helping someone who is in so much distress they’re hurting themselves as soon as they are triggered, even in front of work colleagues.
It may be that this person is triggered by overwhelming emotion, and moves straight to self-injury. Many of us who have relied on self-injury feel very anxious / furious / over-worried when we’re triggered, and we might run away, leave a conversation without warning, and run to a ‘safe space’ to hurt ourselves.
It may be that your colleague goes from 0 to 100mph (emotionally speaking) in 0.1 seconds, rather than 2 seconds. It may be that they don’t have even a second to think about their actions - they get triggered, and act immediatly.
We, at LifeSIGNS, understand self-injury to be a coping mechanism, something some people turn to when overwhelmed and unable to escape their environment, their memories, their emotions.
You, or the person’s manager, may want to talk to them about what’s behind their self-injury. There does not have to be a mental illness behind the self-injury (but there could be) but clearly there’s an emotional health concern. The manager may be able to talk about making changes in the work environment, or talk about working patterns / shifts and compassionate leave or holiday.
- We have a fact sheet especially for employers.
And other fact sheets that your colleage may appreciate.
Self-injury is often accompanied by shame - there should be no shame in struggling or needing a little extra support at times. Everybody’s emotional / mental health goes up n down through the year and through life. But sensitivity is needed. An informal chat over coffee is better than a ‘meeting’ across a desk.
Your colleague may not know that other people hurt themselves, they may feel very alone, and may be desperate for support but not have the words to ask.
Thank you for contacting us - it’s too easy to ignore other people’s suffering because of ‘awkward’ feelings, so we wish you the very best.
Look down the left navigation and find something you can adapt to suit. Exploration and adaptation are key for self-help.