Welcome to part 3 of our series about self-harm. Last week I talked about the different reasons why I self-harm and why others might be do it as well. This week we’re going to debunk the common myth that it is all for attention. *Be advised, this post may contain potential triggers.*
It’s For Attention
This is the most common thing that self-harmers hear from other people. According to the majority of others, attention is the only reason that we would self-harm.
Today, I’d like to tell you that that’s not true.
As mentioned above, if you check out last week’s post then you will see the reasons why I self-harm and attention does not come into it. If anything, in the majority of cases, attention-seeking is near the bottom of the list of reasons. Ask yourself: if we were doing it for attention, why would we cut where we can keep it hidden? I cut my legs, a friend of mine does their stomach, someone else I know does their arms but wears long sleeves all the time. Why would we be working so hard to keep it hidden if we were doing it for attention? That, if anything, makes no sense.
So where does attention come in?
My answer is twofold.
Some do do it for attention
Yes, I couldn’t avoid this one. There are people out there who would self-harm as a means of attention-seeking, though let me stress that these people would be in the minority. At least, people who do it primarily for that reason. As people grow and change, they might start enjoying or liking being in other people’s thoughts or receiving the care or fuss that other people give them, so they may transition to doing it for attention but that’s not always the case.
As I said: those who do it primarily to receive that fuss and care are in the minority. Some could transition but, again, they are also in the minority of cases. For the vast majority of people who self-harm, they do it for the reasons I mentioned last week – coping mechanisms such as distraction, evidence, a way of feeling or self-loathing – or for their own reasons that I haven’t covered.
However, there is a flipside to that story.
Others do do it for attention…but not that attention!
I know, that makes about as much sense as a chocolate teapot but bear with me, it’ll become clear in just a moment!
How many times have you heard that suicide is a cry for help? Now, while I disagree with that statement, I’d like to turn it on its head and point out that suicide is not the cry for help, self-harm is.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the case for everyone. For me, it’s a coping mechanism, it’s definitely not a cry for help. For others, however, it is the only way they know how to ask for help. Instead of self-harming where no one can see, they will make it obvious so that someone will comment. Of course, this doesn’t always have the desired effect but more often than not, someone will comment on it and they can then start talking about their struggle and start getting the help that they need.
So yes, in this instance it is deliberately attention-seeking but not in a bad way. Still, this particular reasoning could be in the minority as I don’t know many people who do it for this particular reason. Most of the people I know try to hide it.
We’ve covered some of the reasons why, we’ve covered the attention-seeking myth so what comes next in the series? I think it’s time we looked at ways to help people who self-harm. I’d challenge you to tune in for that one as I can guarantee that the things I suggest are not what you’d normally think of! See you next week!
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