Self-Harm Awareness Month: How to Help Someone Who Self-Harm

A psychiatrist in Gaithersburg, MD offers resources on identifying signs of self-harm and helping those who are struggling with it.

Self-Injury Awareness Day, which takes place every March 1, is coming up soon. This day leads into Self-Injury Awareness Month, which is held to raise awareness for those struggling with self-harm. People who struggle with depression and anxiety sometimes turn to self-harm to help release themselves from these negative feelings. Because of the stigma associated with self-harm, some people are hesitant to get help. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-harm, know that there is help out there. In our latest blog post, a psychiatrist in Gaithersburg, MD offers advice and resources for people affected by self-harm. 

Why Do People Self-Harm?

A psychiatrist in Gaithersburg, MD explains why some people self-harm.

Woman Visiting Therapist
There are multiple possibilities behind why someone self-harms.

People may start self-harming for a number of different reasons. Some people resort to self-harm to try to distract themselves from overwhelming emotions and thoughts. Others do it to release tension and experience temporary euphoria. People who self-harm may also have trouble with expressing their emotions. When words fail them, they turn to self-harm as a communication device. 

However, people who self-harm usually are not attempting to commit suicide. Instead, it is a method for coping with emotional pain. But while self-harm may sometimes bring temporary relief from the emotional pain, this relief is quickly followed by feelings of extreme guilt. 

Different Forms of Self-Injury

People typically self-injure in private. It is often done in a ritualistic manner. Someone might self-harm by cutting themselves with sharp objects, burning their skin, or banging their heads. Some people who self-injure employ multiple methods to harm themselves. The arms, legs, and front of the torso are the most common areas where people self-harm. 

Signs of Self-Harm

Because self-harm is often done in private and the evidence can easily be covered up by clothes or makeup, it can sometimes be difficult to stop. These symptoms may also vary depending on what techniques the person uses to hurt themself. But some common signs of self-harm include:

  • Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts even on hot days
  • Blaming signs of injury on accidents or clumsiness
  • Scars, bruises, fresh cuts, missing hair
  • Having sharp objects on hand

Self-Harm Awareness Month

How different organizations are raising awareness in the U.S.

Woman Visiting Therapist
There are numerous ways you can show support for self-harm awareness month.

Self-Injury Awareness Day takes place on March 1st every year. This global event is held to remove the stigma surrounding self-harm and encourage people to learn the signs of self-harm.

Because it isn’t an official holiday, businesses and schools operate normally. But numerous schools and organizations will host conferences and workshops to help educate the general public on self-harm. People who used to self-harm may also open up about their experiences to help others struggling with the same issue.

Self-Injury Awareness Day is just the first day of Self-Injury Awareness Month. Throughout the month, people will continue to raise awareness for self-harm and offer support for those struggling with it.

Participating organizations include:

Showing Your Support for Self-Harm Awareness Month

Throughout the month of March, you might see people wearing orange ribbons. Others might have the word “LOVE” written on their arms or the image of a butterfly on their wrist. These are all common ways that people show their support for this important month. By spreading awareness about self-injury, supporters hope to eliminate the stigma surrounding it so that people are no longer scared or afraid to reach out for help. 

Resources for People Affected by Self-Harm

Help is out there for people struggling with self-harm.

counselor helping young woman
You don’t have to go through this alone. Help is out there.

Are you or someone you know struggling with self-harm? There are numerous resources available to help you get through this difficult time in your life. Crisis hotlines and professional therapists are here to help. Reaching out to someone you trust can also help you start on a path toward recovery.

Help for People Who Self-Harm

If you are struggling with thoughts of self-harm, you can immediately text HOME to 741741 to speak to a real human and come up with healthy coping mechanisms for addressing the emotional pain you are suffering from. You may also want to research and find a psychiatrist to help deal with the difficult emotions you are currently experiencing. This psychiatrist may prescribe medication or recommend psychotherapy to help you recognize negative thought patterns and learn positive coping methods. 

Tips for Supporting Someone Who Struggles with Self-Harm

If you believe a friend or family member is self-harming, it’s important to check up on them and ask them how they are doing. Even if you don’t fully understand what is going on with them, you can still lend your support and even offer to help them find treatment. 

Don’t dismiss their emotions or try to force the person into quitting. Quitting can take a large amount of willpower that the person doesn’t yet have without extra support. 


It’s important for family members, friends, teachers, and medical workers to recognize the signs of self-harm. Learning how to offer helpful and non-judgmental support will also be crucial to ensure patients get the assistance they need. If you or a loved one are looking to talk to someone about this issue, our team of psychiatrists in Gaithersburg, MD is equipped to help you. To learn more information about the Psych Associates of Maryland, contact us today.

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