Events & News

Needed: Good role models for youth


Melba and Reggie occasionally talk about things without getting angry with each other. But sometimes Melba’s patience wears thin. That man just seemed to have a special way of yanking on her rip cord.

            “All of our kids are grown up now. I don’t have to grow up,” Reggie announced.

            “Wrong!” Melba didn’t bat an eyelash. “Now you have grandchildren and it’s as important as ever that you be a good role model for them and any other kids you have influence over. You need to think about everything you say and do that sets examples for the kids who look up to you.”

            Melba had recently read an article about self-harm. One of the sources said that today’s youth don’t have good role models anymore. They don’t know how to fight their own battles and there is nobody stronger to fight for them, say some professionals. Negative home environments teach these youth not to talk about their feelings, just ignore those things and they will go away. But they don’t go away,

            March is self-injury awareness month across the U.S. The intent of cutting may or may not be suicide, depending on which experts you are communicating with, but it is reported that in 2014, there were 76,227 deaths attributed to self-harm, which is not only “cutting,” though it seems to be the most common. Other ways individuals harm themselves are burning their skin with hot cigarette tips, pounding body parts, picking at wounds and not letting them heal, pulling out hair (trichotillomania) or consuming toxic substances or objects.

            People harm themselves because they don’t know healthy ways to cope with painful emotions, frustration or intense anger, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some of the things you may notice about someone who self-harms are scars from repeated injuries. The scars are often parallel and it’s not unusual for someone to say the cat scratched them. There may be fresh cuts, scratches or bruises. Maybe they rub a spot to make a burn mark or keep sharp objects on hand. In even the hottest weather they may wear long sleeves and pants to hide their wounds. They may carve words and/or symbols into their skin. And sadly, some who read this article about self-harm will try it, will look for all the ways they can find to “cope” with their problems.

            The result of self-harm is similar to that of using drugs that cause the “feel good” reaction when they just can’t cope with whatever is going on in their lives. Like addiction to drugs, the more a person harms himself or herself, the more they are driven to do it to achieve the same release. And sometimes they die.

            The person has to want to quit before anyone can help them. And those who treat them need to understand the problems associated with self-harm and how it works. WebMD advises that emergency room staff often become angry with those who self harm and then come to the ER for treatment. Sometimes they are angry enough not to use anesthetic when they repair the wounds.

            Healing must come from within. The person who injures himself or herself needs to look at why they do it. They have to stop running away from their troubles and face them with better life coping skills, the kinds of things they can learn from good adult role models who show them how to negotiate through life, to understand their rights, to learn to say no, to build self-esteem and self-confidence through healthy choices and guided by an adult they trust so they can learn to fight their own battles.

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