Self Harm Alternatives

By: Taylor Lambert

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Self harm is an epidemic within itself. Many people turn to self injury as a form of coping with anything that they may be facing. Though it is unhealthy and unsafe, it can become addicting or someone’s sole form of coping, which is why alternatives are important and should not only be made known, but also accessible to people in need of help. 

The definition of self harm (as seen in the Merriam-Webster dictionary) is “the act of purposely hurting oneself (as by cutting or burning the skin) as an emotional coping mechanism”. Though the definition makes forms of self injury seem limited, they are not confined to just these two examples. Self harm is really any form of self inflicted bodily injury for the purpose of creating pain or harm. Other examples are punching/hitting oneself, abusing drugs and alcohol, eating disorders, hair pulling, picking at the skin, and even excessive exercise can all be forms of self harm, but once again it is not limited to these examples. 

Teenagers and young adults have the highest rate of self harm of all age groups, but the statistics do not accurately portray how many do injure themselves, and the numbers are assumed to be higher than recorded. According to a report made by The American Psychological Association, approximately 15% of college students have self harmed at least once and about 17% of adolescents have self harmed at least once. The same report also states that young, white females are the most likely to self harm, but men also make up between 35-50% of self-injurers. 

Some alternatives for self harm when the urge to harm is extreme include:

  • Snapping a rubber band or hair tie on your wrist
  • Putting red food dye on an ice cube and rubbing it on the skin 
  • Write or draw on the areas of your body that you want to harm 
  • Exercise vigorously 

Other alternatives 

  • Do something creative, like painting or drawing 
  • Listen to music as loud as you can handle 
  • Take a bath, nap, or take a minute to meditate 
  • Let yourself cry 
  • Dance around your room until you’re too tired to stand 
  • Watch TV, read a book, write in a journal 
  • Do something to distract yourself, plan out your dream house, for example 
  • Get out of the house as a different form of distraction 

While these are only a few options, there are more subsidies for self-mutilation. These alternatives will not work for everybody, but almost anything you can possibly do to avoid hurting yourself, is enough. Understand that there is always somebody there to help and there is no shame in asking for it. You are not alone, and these emotions will not last forever. If you or someone you know is struggling with self harm or suicidal ideations then do not hesitate to ask for help, tell a trusted adult or reach out to the Self harm crisis line or the Suicide prevention hotline

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