Question Box: self-harm

August 12, 2011

Question: I was curious if we believe in self harm (cutting and slapping yourself) and I was also curious to know if we believe in having eating disorders?

A: I don’t fully understand the question. I think we believe that these are problems and we should be treating our bodies as sacred gifts from our Heavenly Father given to us to house our spirits while we are on this earth. So…don’t do self-harming. Keep your body healthy and strong so you can serve others and your Heavenly Father. We understand that these problems do exist, and we fully support getting therapy or other needed help. We don’t look down on those that struggle with these problems, but we care about them and encourage them to get the help they need to overcome these problems. If you’re not sure where to stop, visit your Bishop for some advice and counsel.

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4 Responses to “Question Box: self-harm”

  1. turns up many results for “eating disorders.” Here is a recent article:  “My Battle with Anorexia”

    Here is an unofficial resource on self-harm/cutting:  “The Mormon Therapist on Self-Cutting” (I highly recommend materials by the author, Natasha Helfer Parker)

    Cutting was one issue I dealt with when I have served at various times as a leader in the Young Women program in my ward. Statistically, I’m sure that disordered eating was also an issue for some young women I served, however, it wasn’t something I happened to directly encounter. Speaking for myself (though the feeling is hared by the vast majority of YW leaders and bishops I have worked with), I desperately loved all the girls I served and want them to find happiness and see themselves the way I see them: as amazing daughters of God who have a bright future ahead of them and deserve all the best that life has to offer. When struggling with these issues, often the hardest thing is believing that about yourself: that you are lovable and have worth.

    If anyone is suffering from these or similar issues, I would encourage them to tell someone they trust. It could be a parent, young women leader, bishop, grandmother, aunt, cousin, teacher at school, or even call any of a number of national crisis hotlines if you feel that there isn’t someone in your immediate circle that you trust. 

  2. I had to make the links in the above comment not actual links to get past the spam filter–that’s a tough critic! I also had to delete these two links. These are hotline resources:

    Here are hotlines for cutting:

    Here are hotlines for eating disorders:

  3. davidmpark

    I am a member of the Church, and I do self-harm. Most blogs and postings quote the same scripture Leviticus 19:28; and it’s useless to quote this as it applies to professional mourners who do it as part of the show. Actual self-harm, for me anyway, was a way to punish myself for not being what others wanted me to be.

    For some background, I was raised in an LDS-on-the-outside family, but psychotic underneath. Family life for me wasn’t keeping the commandments or having faith in Christ, but was of keeping up a perception of the perfect Leave it to Beaver exterior, while my parents told me privately I should’ve been aborted and they never wanted me, and the other forms of abuse that went on. They outsourced the sexual abuse to the extended family, and did the mental and emotional personally. My egg donor’s idea of abusing me physically was to talk to neighbors during services or through visiting teaching to tell them of every little childish mistake or quirk I had, and sometimes outright lies, and then leave it to them to deal out “social justice.”
    In fact, because of all the stuff in my life right now, i just knifed myself in the legs about 30 minutes ago. I felt like it was enough to punish me so I can calm down enough to find another job, help my severely disabled wife and young kids, and to keep some order in the house. I don’t tell them i do this and hide it well enough. My life, as far as I can see it, is do my best for them and love them properly: to keep my loving wife going as long as possible and to help the kids succeed in life, and hopefully end the abuse and failure cycle.
    Church leaders and authorities are now looking at self-harm as the major problem that it is. I can’t find the article on right now, but they said that if done out of emotional upheaval and distress or from abusive backgrounds, that God will judge it as not a sin against the person, but more abuse from the abuser that the victim shouldn’t have to account for.
    The best thing one can do if they know someone who does is not to give ’em a hard time – it’s pretty bad at the moment for the injured person already. Do the opposite; be calm and just love ’em. It’s hard enough dealing with the anguish already there without someone going ballistic on ’em for what can only be described as the other person’s selfishness.
    Wish I could’ve been more helpful.

  4. tgaines

    david, I am sorry for your struggles in life. I hope you can find a Bishop or other trusted friend to lean on. The church is organized so that we can always find someone to confide in when our troubles overcome us. Even if the first person is Christ, he will provide succor. I truly believe it and hope you can take steps toward healing.