Self-Harm

What is it?

The term self-harm is used to refer to situations where self-injury has no suicidal intent. It is not easy to tell the difference between self-harm and a suicide attempt. The only way to know is to ask the person directly, “Are you suicidal?”

Signs and Symptoms: 
  • Cutting, scratching, or pinching skin enough to cause bleeding or a mark that remains on the skin
  • Banging or punching objects to the point of bruising or bleeding
  • Ripping and tearing skin
  • Carving words or patterns into skin
  • Interfering with the healing of wounds
  • Burning skin with cigarettes, matches, or hot water
  • Pulling out large amounts of hair
  • Deliberately overdosing on medications when this is not meant as a suicide attempt

 

Reasons people engage in self-harm:

There are many reasons for people engaging in self-harm including:

  • To escape unbearable anguish
  • To change the behavior of others
  • To escape from a situation
  • To show desperation to others
  • To get back at other people or make them feel guilty
  • To relieve tension
  • To seek help
Support Strategies: 
  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies
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