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.
Cornell University offers a comprehensive resource center on self-injury including a recovery overview that explores how to stop, what to expect during recovery, coping strategies and tips for helping a friend or family member.
Self-Harm and Self-Care
This ten-minute video from Psych2Go walks through coping strategies and self-care tips that can be helpful if you or someone you know are self-injuring.
How to Help
Mental Health Aid shares tips for supporting someone who is self-injuring, including how to assess the risk of harm, have constructive conversations and encourage them to seek help.
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 or browse the full directory here.
Crisis Text Line
Have a free, confidential chat with a trained counselor. Available 24/7.
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Call for a free, confidential conversation with a trained counselor. Available 24/7.
A Warmline is a free peer-run hotline that offers callers emotional support, staffed by volunteers with lived experience.
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Inclusive Therapists offers a safer, simpler way to find a culturally responsive, social justice-oriented therapist.
ADAA Therapist Search
A tool to help find local mental health services, including teletherapy options.
A paid online portal that provides access to mental health services, including online counseling, phone, and text communication.
A paid online text therapy platform that provides 24/7 access to licensed therapists who cover a broad range of mental health services.
Outside the U.S.? Find a Helpline
Free emotional support, wherever you are.
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