Self harm; stop the bleeding!
Recent statistics show that up to 1 in 10 young people, aged 11 to 25, are deliberately hurting themselves. Put that into a context of a University which has more than 12,000 students. Yet, despite the shocking statistics, many people have no idea exactly what it is, why people do it, and crucially where to go and what to do if you are thinking about self-harming or are doing it.
In other words, it’s still a major taboo, with far too many negative associations and stigmas attached to it and no one really knowing how to deal with it. School is great about teaching us about the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse, and what action to take if this becomes a problem. However nothing is mentioned about self-harm. By that I mean cutting, burning, biting, punching.
It may sound stupid to many people, but for others it’s an addictive coping mechanism, which they don’t know how to stop. Fact is, it is a major problem and it NEEDS addressing!
So, why write a blog about it?
As a student, I got to a point where I really felt like I needed help, I needed to stop cutting! I went through the usual channels, went to Nightline, they not so helpfully gave me a leaflet which of course had the Samaritans number on it, which inevitably went in the bin. I went to the doctors, who said maybe you should talk to someone, i.e not my problem. I went to the counselling service at University, they gave me some questionnaires about how I was feeling, I mean what the hell! All in all it was pretty useless.
I refuse to believe that people who self-harm have to give up hope because they can’t find help. I refuse to accept that there are probably dozens of students walking around thinking that they are worth so little and have to hurt themselves, and I would hate to think that this is happening because no one wants to speak up and educate people about the issues and put a plan into action to stop it.
Unfortunately, I left York in July so I can’t go marching into the University campaigning for things to change. However, I do want to inspire someone to make such a movement happen. What I am suggesting, is that anyone who reads this and is affected by it (self-harmer or not) and agrees that more awareness and help is needed, get together. You don’t realise how much you might benefit from talking and making friends with people who understand what you are going through.
Start from there, and once you start helping yourselves (strength in numbers and all that), maybe start thinking about how you can raise awareness in the University. If anyone comments, I will send you some links to stuff I think might be worth doing.
Don’t be ashamed of what you do. We need to raise more awareness of these issues! The university needs a better system for dealing with self-harm! Be part of a movement that will inspire change, then maybe we can help stop the bleeding.