Tattoo artist helps young Australians cover self-harm scars
When Brazilian tattoo artist Fernando Hideki moved to Australia two years ago, he noticed a growing trend among his clientele that more and more young people were seeking his help in covering the scars caused by self-harm.
“I have met many people who are trying to overcome self-injury and move forward in their lives by covering their scars with tattoos,” Hideki said.
The transformative impact his tattoos have had on people’s lives inspired Mr. Hideki to want to do more.
In March, he founded the Tattoo for Mental Health campaign to support people struggling with depression and self-harm.
Two fundraisers in Sydney have already taken place as part of the campaign – with Mr Hideki volunteering to cover people’s self-harm scars – to raise money for the mental health support organization , Beyond Blue.
âI want them to feel better about themselves,â he said.
Raelene Sebastian was just a teenager when she began to suffer from depression and began to self-harm.
âI didn’t feel safe and I was always belittled,â Ms. Sebastian said. “That’s when I just didn’t want to be around anymore.”
After overcoming her depression, the 24-year-old tried to cover the scars on her left wrist with clothes.
âI was ashamedâ¦ I knew after the fact that I didn’t have to do this,â she said.
Wanting a permanent solution, Ms Sebastian sought help from Mr Hideki.
She chose to cover the scars with a tattoo of a character from her favorite children’s book – “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.
The book, which explores the journey of a caterpillar to become a butterfly, is symbolic of its own history.
Ms. Sebastian hopes her tattoo “opens a conversation” about self-harm.
âI always make myself available for those who want to talk about what they’re going through because it’s hard when you don’t have anyone to talk to, and that’s how I felt,â she said.
Beyond Blue’s senior clinical advisor, Dr Grant Blashki, said there are several reasons people self-harm.
“About 1 in 10 young people say they have harmed themselves at some point in their life in some way,” he recently told ABC Radio Sydney.
“It is often the expression of emotional pain, of trying to cope or to punish yourself.
“A lot of people have this feeling of liberation.”
Dr Blashki said covering self-harm scars with tattoos can be part of a person’s healing process.
âIt’s not for everyoneâ¦ but, for the people who have decided to do it, it can be a great way for them to feel that they have accepted it,â he said.
Self-harm can involve cuts, burns, or tingling of the skin and sores.
And while the cycle of self-harm is often difficult to break, Dr Blashki said there are ways for people to seek help.
âIf you’re the type of person who feels the urge to self-harmâ¦ delay it, try to distract yourself and try to breathe deeply, just to calm yourself down,â he said.
âIt might be a good idea to contact Beyond Blue support servicesâ¦ or you might want to talk to your GP, who can [fill out a] mental health plan. “
For those who are concerned that a loved one may harm themselves, there are a range of ways to provide support.
“The first thing is: don’t judge. It’s very common. Elevate the conversation with someone and pick a good time and a good place,” said Dr Blashki.
“You don’t have to be the psychologist. You just listen and let them know that you are there to support them.”