For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about…
TWLOHA (To write love on her arms) is an awareness day for teen suicide, self-harm, and depression. Sunday is national Teen Depression and Suicide awareness and it runs till Friday.
Here are the facts:
“According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the leading causes of disability, with approximately 121 million people suffering with depression worldwide. The National Institute of Mental Health states that approximately 18 million people suffer from depression in America alone. Depression does not discriminate across age, race, gender, or class. Among teenagers it is estimated that 20 percent will suffer from depression at some point by the time they reach adulthood. There are also as many as 8.3 percent of teens suffering from depression for at least a year at a time, compared to 5.3 percent of the general population.
Between 20% and 50% of depressed kids and teens have a family history of depression and children of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression. (U.S. Surgeon Generalís Survey, 1999)
Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30 percent of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem. (NIMH) 2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. (NIMH)
While not always the case, often untreated depression and other struggles lead to unhealthy ways in which we try and deal with the hurt and pain we are feeling. We try and find anything that we can do to take away the hurt, painful feelings, or negative thoughts we are experiencing. Often the things that we turn to seem to help at first, appearing to provide some of the relief that we need so badly. But, even though they may seem like they help, often they are unhealthy themselves, eventually becoming even greater struggles like addictions such as drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, or self-injury.
Self-injury remained very much a mystery until 1996 when Princess Diana revealed that she had struggled with it. It has become much more visible in society within the last ten years.
Self-injury is also termed self-mutilation, self-harm, or self-abuse. It can be defined as the deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-lethal harming of one’s self, including but not limited to; 1) cutting, 2) burning, 3) picking or interfering with wound healing,4) infecting oneself, 5) punching/hitting self or objects, 6) inserting objects in to skin, 7) bruising or breaking bones, and 8 ) some forms of hair pulling. While these behaviors pose serious risks, they may be symptoms of a problem that can be treated.
Experts estimate that 4% of the population struggle with self-injury. It has the same occurrence between males and females, even though in popular culture it can appear to be more prevalent among girls.
Those who struggle with self-injury may have many different reasons for their behavior, some of which may be feelings of emptiness, inability to understand or express what they are feeling, loneliness, fear, past abuse, depression, as well as many others. As self-injury, like many addictions, is often a coping mechanism to deal with some manner of internal pain, many who struggle with it also struggle with other issues such as eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. While self-injury may be someone’s way to cope with or relieve painful or hard-to-express feelings and is generally NOT a suicide attempt, relief is always temporary, and usually only perpetuates a destructive cycle that continues the struggle. This cycle often means that those who do not get help can become more depressed and shameful, adding to the pain and need for relief, thus perpetuating the cycle.
Dangers: While self-injury may not be about attempting suicide, the damage done while harming oneself ALWAYS carries the risks of inflicting serious, and even lethal, harm to oneself regardless of whether suicide is intended or not. Also the continued cycle of addiction and self-harm, as in substance abuse and other eating disorders can have a destructive effect on one’s health both physically and mentally, and struggles worsen as time continues without treatment.
(*Self injury facts from SAFE alternatives, online.)
Self-injury, like alcohol and drug abuse and eating disorders, is addictive, and thus not something that is easy to simply ‘stop’.
Help and treatment are available, though at times may be hard to find.
However, while all addictions are very difficult to overcome, help and treatment are out there and available, and recovery and freedom are possible.
We believe this is true whether someone’s struggles may be self injury, depression, drugs and alcohol, body image issues, sexual addiction, or other areas of brokenness.”
For more information visit www.twloha.com. And it’s not too late to start. Write “LOVE” on your arm in any language and join in the cause!