What is Self-Harm?
When life feels out of control, some people hurt themselves on purpose as a way to cope with pain and anger. It’s not the same as a suicide attempt—when someone tries to end their own life—but it is dangerous.
Although painful, self-harm can sometimes bring a quick moment of calm and a release of tension, which can be an addictive sensation. The scars last much longer than the moment of relief, which is often followed by even more intense feelings of guilt and shame than before.
The most common forms of self-harm are cutting or burning, biting, piercing skin, or even breaking bones. It’s sometimes seen as a cry for help—and should be taken seriously. Most of the time, self-harm (a.k.a. self-injury) is a sign of a more serious issue like depression or an eating disorder.
What are the warning signs?
- Scars from burns or cuts
- Bruises or other wounds
- Broken bones
- Carrying around sharp objects, like a knife, when you wouldn’t normally need it
- Wearing clothing to hide scars
- Claiming to have frequent accidents or mishaps
- Spending a great deal of time alone
- Feeling unstable or impulsive
- Feeling helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness
How can I get help?
Anytime you are in crisis you can call or chat with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Self-harm is a warning sign of a larger issue such as anxiety or depression. Speaking with a therapist can help you work through your feelings in a healthy way. HelpPRO and Psychology Today can help you find a mental health pro in your area.
If you want to get connected to mental health treatment center in your area, use the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator or call 1-800-662-4357.