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Self Injury and Cutting: What You Need to Know

If you believe someone you love may be self-harming or cutting, it's important that you know as much about the warning signs, risk factors, and how to seek help. Keep reading to learn the essential details of cutting and self-harm and how to get help today.

What Is Self-Harm?

Self-harm, also known as self-injury, is when someone hurts themselves on purpose. Some people feel an impulse to harm themselves by burning themselves, cutting themselves, pulling out their hair, or picking at their wounds to prevent healing.

Hurting yourself, or thinking about self-harming, is a sign of emotional distress. These uncomfortable feelings can grow even more intense as a person continues to use self-injury as a way to cope.

Results of self-harm can be serious. About a third of students said they had hurt themselves so badly that they should have sought medical care, but only five percent did.

Unlike suicide, the end goal of self-harm is to inflict pain on oneself and not death. However, self-harm can lead to severe and, in some cases, fatal injury.

What Is Cutting?

A common form of self-harm is cutting, where a person deliberately hurts themselves by cutting or scratching their body with something sharp.

What Are the Warning Signs of Self-Harm?

Warning signs of self-harm include:

  • Frequent fresh cuts, bruises, and injuries on the body. The most common places of self-injury are the hands, wrists, stomach, and thighs.

  • Scars from prior cuts and injuries.

  • Has razor blades and other sharp objects constantly on-hand.

  • Attempting to always cover their skin, even when it's hot outside.

  • Make excuses about the cuts that don't sound right.

  • Constantly picking or scratching wounds, burning themselves with cigarettes, and/or pulling out their hair.

Self-Harm Risk Factors

The reasons why people turn to self-harm and cutting are complicated. Some are trying to cope with frustration and anger, and for others, self-harm becomes a habitual, unhappy coping mechanism. Some of the known risk factors for self-harm include:

  • Age: Though people of all ages self-harm, it happens the most frequently among teenagers and young adults.

  • Sex: Research shows that girls self-harm at higher rates than boys do.

  • Trauma: Self-harm rates are highest among people who have been neglected, abused, and raised in otherwise unstable environments.

  • Identity: Teens who self-harm may be questioning their identity and/or sexuality.

  • Mental health disorders: Self-harm often goes hand-in-hand with other mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and PTSD.

  • Drug or alcohol abuse: People are more likely to harm themselves when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

How Can I Support Someone Who Is Self-Harming?

The good news is that there are a number of effective treatments for self-harm and cutting that will allow the person to feel in control again. During treatment, a person will learn healthy coping mechanisms, how to ask for help when they need it, and healthy ways to address the issues that are causing them to want to injure themselves.

Strong Therapy and Community Support, we're committed to providing you with exceptional care in a compassionate and friendly atmosphere. Get help today.

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