The important thing to remember is that there is support and help available, if you want to break the pattern of self harm, and reduce suicide risk.
Some people experience thoughts, intent and plan – which they may or may not carry out – to self-harm and/or attempt to take their own life.
Unfortunately there is a lot of stigma around seeking help, which can be crucial to managing self-harm and suicide risk.
Self-harm can be linked with low self-esteem, trauma, mental health issues, and stress.
In counselling, the aim would be to look at what is causing the self-harming triggers and to help with these thoughts, by looking at distraction techniques, building self-esteem, improving confidence, and embracing mindfulness techniques. By identifying self-harm triggers, it is possible to challenge these thoughts with distraction and new coping mechanisms.
To look at some statistics:
‘While intentional self-harm accounts for a relatively small proportion (1.9%) of all deaths in Australia, it accounts for a higher proportion of deaths among younger people. In 2015, suicide accounted for one-third of deaths (33.9%) among people 15-24 years of age, and over a quarter of deaths (27.7%) among those 25-34 years of age. For those people 35-44 years of age, 16.9% of deaths were due to intentional self-harm. The proportion of deaths due to suicide decreases in older age groups, as the likelihood of dying from natural causes of death increases.’
Further to this, in 2015, suicide was the ‘leading cause of death among all people 15-44 years of age, and the second leading cause of death among those 45-54 years of age. The median age at death for suicide was 44.5 years. This compares to a median age of 81.9 years for all deaths.’
This issue may feel stigmatised but it is imperative to seek support, which is safe and non-judgemental. Everyone experiences difficulties in their lives; it can leave you feeling very alone and isolated which is why counselling can help, as it reinforces that you are not alone.
Possible Risk Factors for Suicide
There are many possible risk factors for suicide, including:
- Previous suicide attempt/s;
- Family history of suicides (although this is debated);
- Lack of support;
- Concurrent mental disorders;
- Increasing substance abuse;
- Low social support;
- Someone living alone;
- Male gender (three times more likely than females);
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) has been specially designed for people whom self-harm to try and ‘control’ the detrimental thoughts and behaviors they may have in relation to self-harm and/or suicide.
It is used with the individual as a series of skills in four modules: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.
Mindfulness is also an essential aspect of DBT as it is about being here in the present moment, and learning to control your emotions.
Author: Liz Taylor, BA (Hons).
Liz Taylor is a social worker with over ten years’ experience in helping people with personality disorders and other mental health issues. Liz’s counselling strategies are drawn from the Relapse Prevention Model, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). She is passionate about enabling her clients to function and feel a sense of control in their lives, and to achieve the goals and outcomes that they wish.