The Self-Harm Safety Box

This is not to take the place of appropriate mental health care. It is a self-help guide is for those who self harm and want to stop but are not sure how from a woman who has struggled and managed to break the vicious cycle of self harm. 

Self-harm is on the rise at an alarming rate, not only amongst teens but adults as well. If you are sitting in a classroom or a school auditorium, glance around you.

Would you think that any of the people you see, be it friends or strangers have self-inflicted scars, bruises or injuries? Statistics indicate that roughly 1 in 8 youths and teens, and 1 in 20 adults have self-harmed or are currently doing so.

Starting the conversation is perhaps the hardest part. How do you bring up a topic that the majority of society will not acknowledge as anything more than a method of seeking attention. Self-harm like every other illness, does not discriminate in age, race, gender, economic status or sexual orientation.

Everyone is fair game.

From personal experience I will tell you that a person has to be in an extreme amount of emotional pain and distress to take a blade or lighter to their skin.

We self-harm because we are angry, sad, lost and broken.

We hurt ourselves because we want to see the scars we feel on the inside, or as a physical distraction, be it brief, from the hurt we cannot bear.
As with everything, prevention should be the focus and if any of these ideas helps even one person, well, that’s a start.

How to Make Your Own Self–Harm Safety Box

1. You can use a shoebox or any box that you have around

It often helps to personalize the outside of this box with drawings, or pictures, or anything that makes you happy.

2. The contents will be completely individual

We want to think of things that bring us calm, or wishes that make us smile, and then make a list of all the things you have thought of.

3. Gather any of the small things you can on your list

If the things are too large, cut out magazine pictures, or anything representative of them.

4. Get any pictures you can of anyone you love, or admire

They could be friends, family members or even pets.

5. Get a few rubber bands

They can be used for 2 purposes:

  • If you usually cut on or burn your arms, it is often helpful to place a photo in the area you intend to self-harm as a preventive strategy
  • Placing rubber bands on your wrists and snapping them can provide a distraction with a sense of pain less severe than cutting
6. Gather a few markers, make sure one is red

They can be used in a few ways.

  • You can use the red marker to visually distract yourself by drawing on the area you want to injure. You can draw it as big as you need, and as graphically as you need
  • You can use the markers to write the name of a loved one where you would cut, making it so you have to cut through their name as well as your skin
  • You can simply just doodle where you would self-harm as a distraction
  • You can draw a butterfly, which represents regrowth. (Search the Butterfly Project or the Lines Project)
7. Include a list of things you would be willing to try as alternatives to self-harm

Here are some examples:

  • Hold tightly on to a piece of ice, or bag of frozen vegetables
  • Use a pillow to hit a wall, or to destroy
  • Crank up some music and dance
  • Go for a walk or workout
  • Have a hot or cold shower or bath
  • Rip up a magazine or book
  • Clap your hands together until they sting
  • Draw, paint or write
  • Splash your face with freezing cold water
  • Count backwards from a higher number (preferably in another language if possible)
  • Bury your head in a pillow and scream as loud as you can
  • Watch funny videos on Youtube, or browse Amazon or Ebay
8. Add all of the above and anything else you can think of that makes you happy or provides a distraction

Keep the box within reach of the area where you would go to self-harm. Remind yourself that you don’t deserve to be hurt, daily, until you believe it. You are worth it.

Jody’s blog. Jody’s twitter.

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3 thoughts on “The Self-Harm Safety Box”

  1. Excellent blog! I help with a family support group thru Nami
    & always on the look out for articles to share with those living with a loved one with mental illness. Cutting is common with BPD & this is wonderful.

    1. Thank you for this post. My daughter has a secondary diagnosis of BPD; doctors say they don’t want it to be her primary diagnosis due to her age of 18. Anyway, she is a recurrent cutter. We’ve been told to not show a lot of emotion over the cutting; easier said than done. This post gives wonderful suggestions to try and distract the behaviors. I’m willing to try it. Love the idea of using a sharpie to write names of loved ones on places where cutting takes place.
      Gloria, any information you can provide on BPD would be appreciated. It has been challenging finding places that have an intensive DBT program in my area. There are not many to choose from.

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