September 18, 2013

Warning, some readers may find this post triggering.

Recently I have read a number of comments that have labelled people who have self harmed or have attempted suicide as attention seekers. I thought I needed to explain why this attitude needs to be changed.

A bit of background, I have in the past attempted suicide. I was taken to hospital by the police. I was told due to the nature of my attempt that I was not serious in my intentions. I have also self harmed. These experiences have led to me being called an attention seeker and now I want to explain why that is not the case.

Self harm is a sign that someone needs help

I myself have always hidden this behaviour and I think this will be the case with many people who have self harmed. The reason I have felt like I have had to hide this is because of the label of being an attention seeker and the judgement of others. I don’t self harm for other people. It is a coping mechanism and, yes, I know it is not a very good one.

I don’t self harm to get people to talk to me and there are many other more effective ways I can think of to get people to look at me. Self harm is not a sign of an attention seeker; it is a sign that someone is distressed and needs help. It is a symptom of a mental health issue.

Suicide or attempted suicide is another area where I have heard people labelled as an attention seeker. When I attempted to take my life, in my mind was not the thought that I wanted someone to notice me or that I wanted people to know how I felt. My feelings were of hopelessness and of very little self worth. I felt that the world and my friends and families lives would be greatly enhanced without me. I wanted a way to escape the world and the pain that felt like it was tearing me apart.

I told a friend what I had done in order to ask for help

I became scared about what I was doing and I told a friend what I had done not in an attempt to get attention but in order to ask for help. Maybe to some people that will be the same thing but to me it wasn’t. This isn’t made easier when the fear of being labelled an attention seeker is added on top. In summary next time you hear or see someone who has self harmed or attempted suicide please don’t call them an attention seeker. It’s unfair as they are doing the best they can to live through a difficult time.

There is more information about suicidal thoughts on the Rethink website and about understanding self harm on the Mind website. The Samaritans are always available to talk to 24 hours a day on 08457 90 90 90 or

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Great blog Jo.

Great blog Jo. Anyone who thinks it's attention seeking, need to educate themselves. It's naive. Most people who self harm, keep it to themselves and have a dislike for attention. Stay well Jo! :-)

Suicide and self harm

I can totally relate to Jo's blog. I suffer with depression and sadly the other day made an attempt on my life, as well as self harming. It is not attention seeking, I simply need help. It is something where you have little control over what you are doing. Believe me, I do not choose to be like this.

It's a real shame that people

It's a real shame that people don't show much compassion anymore. All they see is a person's actions on a surface level, they never think about why the person might be doing whatever. I'm glad that you managed to overcome your troubles so you can pass on your knowledge to people, much appreciated and definitely something I'll consider in the future if I see anyone who needs help.


What is wrong with the world today???? My son felt that he couldn't tell anyone, not even ourselves, his family, about how he was feeling due to the stigma and discrimination faced by those experiencing a mental health illness, and I know if he had have spoken out everyone would have gone out of their way to help him. He suffered in silence until it became too much for him and he took his own life. Its about time people, in this cold and callous world, woke up to the fact that someone suffering isn't seeking attention, that's the last thing they want.

Not the words but the meaning...

I think that the main problem is not the words(!) but what's meant(!) by them. People can stop using the "attention-seeker" term, to replace it with a "help-seeker" term, or to remain silent at all. But as long as the attitude stays the same, the problem will stay, and the "help-seeker" term will start to "stink" too... It's like trying to put new clothes on a dirty body... The bigger problem there is about not washing the body... In other words, the question is why seeking attention is seen as something bad... I think that those, who shame others, are merely ashamed themselves... Because they, too, still think that wanting attention is something shameful... Because they were treated poorly too... Deep inside, they want attention too, but that belief about it being bad, makes them try to hide it, so they seem cold and indifferent... But they're full of pain too... And, while we wait for their help, they wait for ours... To free that wanting attention from its "shameful" jail, maybe by asking "But what the f*** is really so wrong about wanting some attention?"...

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