Self-harm refers to when a person hurts their own body on purpose. It is more common amongst women than men. A person who self-harms usually does not mean to kill themselves, but they are at higher risk of attempting suicide and dying by suicide if they do not get help.
Self-harm tends to begin in teen or early adult years. Some people may engage in self-harm a few times and then stop. Others do it more often and have trouble stopping.
For many people, self-harm gives them a sense of relief and is used as a means to cope with a problem. Some teens say that when they hurt themselves, they are trying to stop feeling lonely, angry, or hopeless.
Signs & Symptoms
Examples of self-harm include:
- Cutting one’s skin with a sharp object
- Piercing the skin with sharp objects
- Hitting or punching oneself or punching things (like a wall)
- Burning oneself with cigarettes, matches, or candles
- Breaking bones or bruising oneself
Symptoms and warning signs of self-harm:
- Wearing long sleeves or pants, even in hot weather
- Talking about feeling worthless or helpless
- Fresh cuts, bruises, bite marks, or burns
- Keeping sharp objects on hand
- Frequent reports of accidental injury
- Emotional and behavioral instability and unpredictability
It is possible to overcome the urge to hurt yourself. There are other ways to find relief and cope with your emotions. Self-harm treatment options can include outpatient therapy, partial-inpatient or and inpatient hospitalization. When behaviors are life-threatening or interfere with daily life, specialized self-harm programs are recommended.
Learn how to talk about mental health to help you speak to a loved one who you may think is experiencing any mental health concerns.
- If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.
- To learn how to get support for mental health, drug, and alcohol issues, visit FindSupport.gov.
- To locate treatment facilities or providers, visit FindTreatment.gov or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).