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6 Things You Should Know About Deliberate Self Harm

We have all heard about self-harm, have seen it portrayed in the media, and know it is prevalent in our society. But, many people don’t fully understand what it is, why people self-harm, and other important things about it.

Gaining this understanding can help you become aware of the struggles your friends, family members, or those around you are going through. Educating yourself can also help you become knowledgeable about the signs of self-harm and how you can help those you love.

According to studies, about 17% of adolescents have self-injured themselves at least once. This statistic proves that self-harm is all too common in our society. If you are self-harming, know that you are loved, needed, wanted, and appreciated. If you think someone around you is self-harming, reach out for help. There are hotlines you can call, trusted adults you can talk to, and others around you who want to help. You are not alone.

What Is Self-harm?

Deliberate self-harm is classified as hurting yourself on purpose. In the media, we often see self-harm as strictly cutting. There are other ways of performing deliberate self-harm including, but not limited to:

  • Burning
  • Scratching
  • Self-hitting
  • Headbanging
  • And others

An important distinction of deliberate self-harm is that there isn’t a conscious suicidal intent, but it is still serious as severe injuries can occur. Deliberate self-harm is still dangerous and can be potentially life-threatening.

Clinically, this condition of deliberate self-harm is referred to as “Non-Suicidal Self Injury” (NSSI). It is generally used as a way to help someone manage their emotions and can be a physical release of painful mental emotions.

6 Things To Know About Non-Suicidal Self Injury

When it comes to mental health, being educated is one of the best tools you can give yourself and one of the best ways to help those around you. Learning to recognize signs, symptoms, understanding where mental health challenges come from, and what to do about them can make a huge difference in your life and in the lives of those you love.

There is so much information available to help you educate yourself about deliberate self-harm, but here are 6 things that we think are the most important to know and understand:

1. Self-harm isn’t a diagnosed mental disorder but is closely connected to mental illness.

self-harm isn’t a diagnosable mental illness, but it can be a sign or precursor to other severe mental illnesses, specifically anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and others. Even though deliberate self-harm isn’t a diagnosable mental disorder, it should still be taken very seriously and recognized for what it is. self-harm is often a warning sign, and if you know someone who is deliberately harming themself, it is best to seek professional help.

2. Self-harm is harming yourself on purpose.

Understanding that self-harm is hurting yourself on purpose is a fundamental distinction to make. Everyone will get bruises, scratches, and even burnt occasionally on accident. It is normal to burn yourself on a hot pan or on your curling iron every once in a while. Getting injured in an accident is normal and is not a warning sign of mental illness. Deliberate self-harm is when these things happen on purpose with the intent of injuring yourself. Understanding the difference is vital to recognizing the signs of mental illness.

3. Teenagers are most likely to self-harm.

While it is possible for anyone, no matter stage of life, age, gender, or race, to practice deliberate self-harm, specific demographics of people are more likely than others to practice deliberate self-harm. A warning sign of mental health challenges in teenagers that can lead to deliberate self-harm is bullying. Bullying is highly prevalent in schools and can be a precursor to mental illness and self-harm.

Adolescent caucasian females make up the highest demographic of people who self-harm. Adolescents, teenagers, and young adults are at greater risk of using self-harm to cope with difficult emotions. Also, members of the LGBTQIA+ community are at a greater risk.

Understanding the demographic of people at greater risk of self-harm is a great way to help be aware of those around you and those you love.

4. People may self-harm in order to help manage feelings.

There is no one correct answer for why people use self-harm as a way of coping with or releasing emotions. Everyone is different, and every situation is different. In general, though, many people use self-harm as a way of managing feelings and releasing emotional stresses. It can be a way to physically feel emotional pain and act as a release for all of these distressing emotions.

5. Self-harm is not done to be dramatic or seek attention.

Often people think that when others deliberately harm themself, it is done as a way of seeking attention or being “dramatic.” This idea couldn’t be further from the truth. People do not harm themselves to seek attention or be dramatic. self-harm is often done in areas where others won’t see it and where it can be easily hidden. The most common places of self-harm are wrists, arms, stomach, and thighs. These places are often easier to hide the injuries and the scars. self-harm is not done for attention.

6. The best treatment is therapy and, in some cases, medication.

When it comes to non-suicidal self-harm, the best and most effective treatment is often professional therapy and, in some cases, medication. Utilizing a reliable mental health professional can provide people with the knowledge and resources to be able to release and work through their emotional pain without causing physical injury. Everyone is different, but an important thing to keep in mind is to be kind, caring, express love, and not judge. If someone trusts you enough to tell you they are deliberately injuring themself, it is important to express love, kindness, acceptance and help guide them towards getting treatment that can help them.

Signs of Self-harm

There are a lot of different signs of self-harm. The best way to detect self-harm is to check in often with your friends and family; ask them how they are doing, have honest conversations, and express love towards them. However, there are a couple of signs that you can be aware of that can be indicators of self-harm. These include but are not limited to:

Physical Signs:

  • Scars
  • Fresh/recurring burns
  • Scratches
  • Cuts
  • Bruises

Behavioral Signs:

  • Always wearing long sleeves/pants even when it is hot (to cover scars or injuries)
  • Behavioral or emotional volatility/instability
  • Changes in personality, feeling sad, upset, snappy, more than usual
  • Withdrawing from previously enjoyed activities
  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Changes in friend groups

Emotional Signs:

  • Saying they are helpless/worthless
  • Emotional numbness
  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Guilt

There are other signs other than these, and everyone is different. If you suspect self-harm, it is best to talk to the person and help them get the help that can assist them in managing their feelings.

How to Seek Help

If you are currently deliberately harming yourself, please know that you are loved, wanted, and good enough. The best way to help yourself is to seek help from a professional who can help you manage your emotions and give you the tools necessary to release your difficult emotions without harming yourself.

Treatment for self-harm can be very different for everyone. The treatment needed depends on the type of self-harm and other pre-existing mental illnesses. If your self-harm is linked to a mental disorder, treatment will likely focus on helping you navigate your mental disorder as a way of limiting your self-harm.

Some common forms of treatment include psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication to treat mental illness, and in severe cases, psychiatric hospitalization.

If you want to seek help, it is best to reach out and talk to a trusted individual. Having someone you trust can help encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional. There are also options of mental health hotlines you can call. The National Alliance of Mental Health number is:

(800) 950-6264

Some at-home treatment options you can try involve:

  • Stick with your schedule and treatment plan
  • Recognize situations that increase your desire to harm yourself and come up with a plan
  • Ask for help
  • Create or join a support group

At Jackson House, we want to help. Jackson House is a residential treatment center that can help you and those you love educate themselves and treat serious mental illnesses. There is help at Jackson House; if you have questions contact us today.


It's time to feel better

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