Singapore

Cutting to cope

Self-harm is not always cutting.

It includes burning, headbanging and intentionally swallowing poisonous chemicals.

Psychotherapist and counsellor at Womancare Psychological Services Cathy Livingston said self-harm is a means of expressing and dealing with internal deep distress and emotional pain.

"Many who harm themselves are experiencing anxiety, depression or have experienced trauma. They do not have healthy emotional regulation coping skills, therefore they harm themselves to cope with these feelings," she said.

Ms Livingston said self-harm releases endorphins, which compensates for the pain inside.

"But it is very temporary. The addiction probably comes from the release and distraction from the emotional pain," she said.

SIGNS OF SELF-HARM TO WATCH OUT:

  • Sudden mood changes
  • Isolated
  • Easily irritable
  • Unexplained cuts or bruises
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants when it is really hot
  • Hidden sharp objects in their possession

STARTING YOUNGER

The trend of self-harm has become apparent in younger children, and among boys.


 BY THE NUMBERS

50: Number of teens who harmed themselves in 2014 in an attempt to cope with emotional stress or frustration. The figure is up from 44 in 2013, according to data from the Singapore Children's Society.