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How to speak safely about self harm on the forums

Special Discussion: Safe conversations about self harm 

 

We want to preface this post by mentioning that if you think this post could be triggering for you it’s okay to read it at a later date when you feel up to it. We also wanted to get the community thinking about the following questions before launching into this discussion. 

 

  • Have I confirmed that I am safe somewhere in my post? (If you aren’t safe than you need to be using a crisis support service)
  • Have I given any information that could alert the community to the method I have used? 
  • What am I hoping to take from sharing this with the community? 

 

Why is it so important for us to have safe conversations about self harm? 

 

Self harm is something that impacts many people - in fact 8% of Australian’s say they have self harmed in their lifetime. It’s a habit that usually forms as a teenager or young adult and can be something that takes awhile to recover from but it’s important to mention that recovery is possible.

 

One of the most impactful things we can do for ourselves and for others is to be part of breaking the stigma of talking about self harm. We hear this over and over - but what does it mean to “break stigma”? We’d like to get the community's thoughts on this, but at ReachOut we believe that breaking the stigma has a lot to do with talking about it in order to reduce the shame people feel for self-harming and experiencing mental illness. How we do this is by telling people we are not okay, by building on our support networks and connecting with others. The less shame people feel, the more they open up, the less emotional pain/isolation we feel, the less we will be at risk of self harm. 

 

It is for these reasons that ReachOut want to hold a space for people to feel safe enough to open up about their self harm. We want our community to feel less alone and closer to recovery. In order for us to have these discussions ReachOut have put together guidelines around how we speak about this issue. We know that when someone is in high distress it can be easy to forget these guidelines and we empathise with that struggle. However, we'd like to highlight our reasoning behind the following guidelines and the importance of giving them a read when you have the mental energy to do so. 

 

We also feel it’s important to mention that as much as possible we try to keep discussion recovery focused. What that means is that we want our community to be a place to find new solutions, support and a way forward. It’s good to keep that in mind when posting or responding to anyone. So with that said - talking about self harm is part of our recovery. 

 

So why the guidelines?

 

Peer Support.PNGPS.PNG

 

These guidelines are really important because while we want you all to get support from ReachOut we need to know that in that moment you are safe. The nature of our service being online means that we have limited information and it can be highly distressing for everyone in the community to not know if you are okay. These guidelines comes down to the community caring about your safety but also making sure that we aren’t causing distress to the community. We come here to feel better, not worse - we have to keep this in mind because all of the community members on the forum are experiencing some level of mental distress. We need to look out for each other with this in mind. 

 

It’s important for you to get support though, so if you are thinking of posting about self harm ensure you let us know you are not in danger or needing medical attention. If you are in danger or need medical attention please contact triple zero. 

 

The scope of what our online community offers can sometimes make it so that we are not always the best service to provide for your needs. A part of the reason why is because we are an online space and there are lots and lots of people who come to ReachOut to read the posts and get support. As a result ReachOut must always walk a fine line of considering what is best for you all as individuals but also thinking about the wider community and how graphic or sensitive topics may impact everyone. 

 

With all this said, some of you might still be confused about how to speak about self harm in a safe way. We appreciate that this is a difficult topic to discuss with guidelines in place and we are happy to answer any specific questions you may have around this - leave a comment below if you want us to get into more detail. 

 

Re: How to speak safely about self harm on the forums

Hey @hellofriend 

 

We just wanted to say that we really value your feedback and thought we would move your comment into your feedback thread here to continue the conversation there. 

 

Thank you for raising your thoughts Heart