When someone harms themselves on purpose, through cutting, hitting, burning or other deliberate acts, the behavior is called self-injury. More common in teens and young adults, self-injury can be managed with treatment — which often involves finding healthier coping strategies to address painful or hard-to-express feelings.
Self-injury is complex. While these acts are generally not an attempt to end one’s life, people who self-harm are at increased risk for suicide. If you’re worried about yourself or a friend, it’s helpful to learn more about the behaviors.
This deep dive from The Mighty combines the experience of doctors and patients to explore the types of self-injury, causes, warning signs and treatment options.
Signs of Self-Harm
This video from Psych2Go sheds light on some not so obvious warning signs that someone may be self-harming.
The Psychology of Self-Injury
This eight-episode podcast hosted by Dr. Nicholas Westers features experts and people with a history of self-harm to help us better understand the behavior.
Since self-injury can cause serious long-term harm, it’s important to seek professional help to explore treatment options. Coping mechanisms like journaling can complement a treatment plan and help lean into the painful feelings connected to the behaviors.
Self-injury often involves secrecy and shame, so finding the courage to speak up and talk about difficult thoughts, feelings and behaviors is an important first step. Here are some resources to help you better understand recovery strategies.
Mental health professionals are trained to support people who are struggling with self-injury or other mental health challenges. If you need immediate help, please reach out to the resources below to talk to a trained counselor 24/7.