At work the other day I worked with a self harmer and she read me a passage from two books. One was around self harm and the other a contemplation of suicide. Her passages were so different that we ended up in a discussion around the stereotypes. She is only young but had a lot to say! Because she reads these types of books a lot and has recently been heading towards the teen section she has noticed a big difference in the way suicide and self harm is depicted. The younger book had very dramatic scenes every now and then throughout the book but focused on harm to a girls stomach and how her ‘friends’ dealt with it. It seemed like it was used as a way to make the book more exciting and dramatic which in turn made the topic insensitive and unrealistic. The girl I was with explained how she used to identify with these books but now she sees that it is not discussed well. The other book was a teen book and discussed a scene where a girl stopped the school bully from committing suicide. The question that was asked in the book was ‘do you really want to kill yourself or the crap around you?’.
After looking up some statistics we actually discovered that males are more likely to commit suicide and females are more likely to self harm. we discussed that actually usually girls are depicted as both trying to commit suicide and self harm and the ones who do so are usually being bullied. Whilst I appreciate that this is a common cause of suicidal thoughts and self harm it is important to note that anyone from any background can have these thoughts. The second book even used the ‘bully’ as the one trying to commit suicide and the ‘victim’ the one who helped her in the end. Although this isn’t out of the stereotype role it was written in such a way that made you really think with the characters from each side. Comparing this to the previous book whose response to a character not knowing about what self harm is was ‘google it’.
The girl I was with was actually really upset by this as she spoke about how it undermined those who self harmed, making it into a dark humor scenario instead of facing it. This really got me thinking about how much awareness and discussion there really is. There are so many people who have thoughts about self harm and suicide and there are many people who carry these thoughts out. Yet in this day and age it seems as though it is something that people still sweep under the rug, maybe they don’t want to hear it or don’t know how to deal with it, but whatever the reason there are people out there with these thoughts that maybe just need someone to support them and not judge them, no matter what the issue is. Even the girl I was working with explained the feeling of release and the sense of control it gives you when you can’t control anything else in your life yet afterwards it doesn’t feel any better, but it’s your only release. She did however say that no it’s not that she wants to die but she just wants the crap around her to go away so she can start a new life and not feel like she does.
To all you out there who feel as though self harm and suicide are your only options, is it really you or the crap around you that’s made you feel so low about yourself and life?