(ML) Mental healthThe Mental Health Joke

August 28, 2017

Look back on your childhood for a second. When you were 10, what were you doing? Were you playing outside with some friends? Or maybe you were indoors playing video games or reading a book? Whichever it was, I can almost bet that suicide was not on your mind. Maybe you did think about it at 10, in which case you are here now reading this, you have made it this far, do not give up.

“Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for people from ages 10-24,” according to the American Suicide Prevention Foundation (ASPF). The sad part is that this mindset can start at 10. There are usually two factors that play into this at that young of an age: bullying, (including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse), and a mental health disorder that may or may not be officially diagnosed yet.

Here is where it starts to get difficult because suicide is a complex mental process. No one just wakes up one day thinking, “Hey, today I want to kill myself,” with no rhyme or reason behind it. However, the problem is, people who do not understand the complex mental processes behind the thoughts and actions of suicide, do not understand the seriousness of the problem.

Not only is suicide complex, which I will explain in my next article, but self-harm is, as well. Think about it. Self-harm is a lesser version of suicide. You are still inflicting harm to yourself for some reason, but there is no intent to take your life although it takes the same mental process to harm yourself, as it does to end your life.

I want to save the detailed psychological background of these for the next chapter. I want to examine the problems, and yes, suicide and self-harm are a problem, but there is a bigger one: what causes this? To this day, there is no exact way to stop self-harm and/or suicide. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication to help alleviate some of the symptoms, but when it comes down to it, there is no cure for to help those suffering.  The decision-making processes part of the human brain is what pushes people to hurt themselves.

The problem is most of the disorders linked to self-harm and suicide have their genesis in a negative action suffered by the patient in the past.

For example, many middle school students start to fall into depression. This is the prime time for bullying in a person’s life. Kids are mean to make themselves feel better, or family starts to place responsibilities on the child that are age-inappropriate.  These negative actions can start to make the kids feel depressed, and when you are depressed, you find ways to cope. Some can find comic relief to help cope, while others might choose bullying as an outlet for the emotional pain they are feeling; they can transfer it to someone else. Then there are the ones that do not want anyone else to feel this pain, but they need an outlet. They turn to drugs, alcohol, or self-harm. Eventually, these things become dependent in that persons’ life, and an addiction begins. When an addiction begins, endorphins get released every time they do whatever it is they are addicted to, and that makes them feel better.

It may be hard to believe by some that self-harm can release endorphins and make a person feel better.

Let me explain.

When someone chooses self-harm as their outlet, they release their emotional pain into physical- that way they can control it, because you cannot really control emotional pain. Eventually, when you feel so hurt emotionally, and you feel so low in life, you resort to that, and it is like a drug. Because you get used to almost feeling better when you do it, so when you hurt yourself, it releases endorphins in your brain, almost as a sigh of relief, and they can breathe again.

But what is the science behind it? What is the evidence and the psychological view on this?

That will be chapter 2.

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