A Quick FAQ about Self Harm

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What is Self Harm?

Self Harm is inflicting non-suicidal injury to oneself. It is deliberately harming your own body. It is important to note that it is not meant to be a suicide attempt. Rather, self-harm is one way to cope with emotional pain, anger or frustration. While it is a coping mechanism, it is a very unhealthy form to indulge in. Self harm usually brings a fleeting sense of calm and a release of tension, like elastic being released. However, it does not take long for the elastic to bound back and hit you. Thus, self harm is usually followed by guilt, shame and return of those painful emotions that needed a release.

Is Self Harm Just Cutting Oneself?

No, self harm is not just cutting oneself. Although, it happens to be a more of a pop-culture phenomenon. Self harm comes in the form of scratching oneself, burning – using matches, cigarettes or hot pots and pans, carving words or symbols on skin, punching oneself, piercing the skin with sharp objects or even pulling out hair in frustration. And people who do harm themselves can use more than one method to inflict injury to deal with psychological pain.

Are there Symptoms?

Yes. Scars, cuts, scratches, bruises, burn wounds are some of the obvious symptoms. However, people who tend to indulge in self harm also keep the object of inflicting injury close to themselves. They tend to cover up their scars. If you insist on seeing that part of the body, they aggressively rebuff your attempts.

Apart from this, they display erratic, unpredictable behavior. Often seemed to be searching for their identity, seeming to wonder who they are and why exactly they are here. Additionally, they often speak about how helpless they are, how hopeless they feel or how worthless they seem to be.

Do I Need to See A Doctor?

If you are injuring yourself, even in a minor way or you find yourself frequently thinking about harming yourself. Or wondering how it would feel. Or that maybe if you feel physical pain, the emotional pain will be easier to handle… then reach out for help.

Such thoughts or self-injury indicate that there are some bigger, underlying issues that need to be addressed.

It is completely understandable that you feel ashamed or embarrassed about your behaviour. You might even think that you are weak for asking for help. But remember that realizing something is wrong and working towards correcting it is braver than suffering.

I think I know someone who self harms… What should I do?

First of all, try to be supportive and non-judgmental. It is completely understandable for you to be shocked and scared. Remember that if you are judgmental or insensitive, then you might make it worse for the person.

Secondly, just asking them to stop would not solve the problem. As mentioned above, self harm comes from a deep instilled issue regarding self-esteem or something similar. In mental health, there is no switch to just shut off the problems one is facing.

Thirdly, gradually convince them to seek help from a professional – all the while continuing to be supportive of the person.

Remember to not to pity them – they are doing it themselves right now. Instead, be supportive and empathetic.

What does Islam say about Self harm?

Islam strictly prohibits suicide and self harm. There are many verses and ahadith that act as an evidence to it. For example,

And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. [Qur’an, 2:195]

In addition to the shariah ruling, one must also remember the fact that emotions are something that Allah has blessed us with. And like all blessings of this world they come to us, at times, as a form of test. So, it might be a test for us on how we handle our emotions. But also remember that Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bear, so whatever you are facing is within your capacity of managing. You are strong and Allah considers you strong enough to handle this. So, don’t fall back on the methods that would only harm you in the longer run to deal with difficulties and intense emotion.

If you continue to feel sad and depressed, take a stock of your relationship with Allah, are you praying the way you used to? Are you reciting the Qur’an? Do you understand what you recite? Do you feel like praying? Do you find yourself slacking off in your duties? Are you seeking Allah’s Help?

Also, focus on the blessings you have. Compare your situation with those of the others of the world. You are still here, reading this article. How many people have lost their lives to a calamity? This life is indeed a blessing for us and an opportunity to become better.

What if I punish myself to be a better muslim?

It is not good to punish oneself with more than one can bear, or with things that cause physical harm. Punishment should take a form of obliging yourself to do more righteous deeds, without causing physical harm. Deprive yourself of the things you like.

Physical harm, in no way, will help you become better Muslim. Allah is the Most Merciful, and if you feel like you have sinned than ask for His forgiveness, ask for His Pleasure and do righteous deeds, work hard towards becoming a better Muslim, give charity, educate people, gain knowledge yourself.

If there are material things that take you away from your Lord, remove those material things – but don’t harm yourself.

The believer who is keen to save himself will strive to save himself from the fire of the Jahannam, he will strive to be better and be kind to others and kind to himself.


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