• Question: Why do you think there is so much stigma surrounding self harm and suicide?

    Asked by anon-283004 on 27 Mar 2021.
    • Photo: anon

      anon answered on 8 Mar 2021: last edited 8 Mar 2021 2:35 pm

      Hi CharmainK,

      I think this can be answered on three levels.
      Firstly, I think stigma is prevalent in all mental health problems. Be that someone hearing voices or in this instance self-harming.

      Secondly, I think there is a bit of a lag between history and where we are now. So things like suicide being a crime in the 1960s! Even the term โ€˜commitโ€™ suicide implies a criminal act.

      Thirdly and finally, I think also it can be quite a foreign thing to some people. We all have depressive thoughts, but the leap to suicidal thoughts or self-harm can be quite hard to understand, and with a lack of understanding comes stigma. Some people see it as selfish or attention seeking, when in reality these things are far from the truth.

      I would encourage anyone who has having issues with these things to reach out. It is ok to not be ok and it is ok to reach out.

    • Photo: Dennis Relojo-Howell

      Dennis Relojo-Howell answered on 9 Mar 2021:

      Hi CharmainK. My answer can be quite distressing. If you need help, please speak to a mental health professional.

      First is that there’s certainly the idea that those who self-harm are seeking attention. I self-harmed multiple times when I was teenager. Many thought I was seeking attention. But if you walked the path I had as a teenager, you would understand what made me vulnerable and not just simply seeking attention. Fortunately, kind people rescued me.

      In relation to the stigma about suicide, culture also has a role to play. In the earlier times in the Philippines (a very Catholic country), a person who died of suicide would often be denied funeral mas and, to some extent, even burial in a Church cemetery. When I lost my friend to suicide, his family had to hide the true reason for his death so he can receive a Catholic funeral mass.

      Many people think that it’s a moral weakness instead of a complicated mental illness.

    • Photo: Harry Piper

      Harry Piper answered on 9 Mar 2021:

      Hi CharmainK,
      Talking about self harm and suicide can be really difficult, partly due to the stigma around the topic. I’m sure there is research in the area, but from what I know I imagine it is because it is a very emotive topic. There are lots of things that can contribute, but I think this and a lack of understanding are what really creates the stigma. When someone approaches you to talk about self harm, they are really opening themselves up and trusting you, and this is a really admirable thing to do. Its really important when we respond to be empathetic and caring. If you are experiencing self harm or having thoughts of suicide, its important to reach out to friends, family, or a professional. Fortunately, i think the stigma around the topic is becoming less, especially in younger people. Remember to reach out if these topics affect you.