Self-harm or self-injury is the deliberate act of harming the self, often by cutting, scratching, or burning skin or surfaces of the body (i.e., wrists, legs, stomach, arms, etc). Self-harm is typically not meant as a suicide attempt. Rather, those who engage in self-injury are trying to cope with intense emotional pain. People who self-injure sometimes do so as a way of dealing with experiences such as depression, anxiety, loss, and trauma. Also, people self-harm to regain a sense of control, to ‘feel’ something other than emptiness or numbness, and to transform emotional pain into more concrete physical pain.
Self-harm can affect anyone, but research indicates that it is more common during the teenage years and among females. Those who have experienced trauma and stressful life events, and/or have a difficult time managing their feelings are often more prone to self-injury. Therapeutic interventions aimed at working through thoughts, feelings, and situations connected to the self-harm can be very helpful. Learning ways to better cope with those overwhelming experiences in a supportive and caring therapeutic relationship is often helpful in finding alternatives to self-injury.
Resources for self-harm: