Self-harm is an act of intentionally harming oneself. For some, it is a way to cope with difficult situations or intense emotions, such as sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety, while for others, it can be a form of self-punishment or a way to seek help from others.
Self-harming can take many different forms, including cutting, burning, scratching, using or increasing use of alcohol and drugs, and overexercising. Self-harming behaviour can affect anyone, but it is more common amongst adolescents. In Japan, studies have shown that about 14% of female high school students have engaged in some form of self-harm.
Self-harm isnt a mental health problem and is usually not done with the intent of suicide, but sometimes people who self harm may have suicidal thoughts. Self-harm is commonly associated with a range of mental health conditions such as
It is often also associated with experiences such as:
While self-harm can temporarily serve to escape intense and difficult emotions and release endorphins, it can cause severe injuries, and sometimes become a repetitive act. Beginning a conversation about self-harm can be difficult, but calling our confidential lifeline is one way you can start getting the support you need. If you are in immediate need of medical help, contact emergency services at 119.
Finding alternative ways to cope with self-harm can also be helpful. Understanding the triggers that create the urge to self-harm and what you are seeking from it, whether that be the physical sensation or feeling in control is important. One alternative coping skill may not always work for every situation, but developing a safety plan that may include a variety of strategies and supports that work best for you can help.
“Self Harm.” Lifeline, www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/information-and-support/self-harm/.
“Self-Harm.” NAMI, https://nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Self-harm
“Self-Injury (Cutting, Self-Harm or Self-Mutilation).” Mental Health America, www.mhanational.org/conditions/self-injury-cutting-self-harm-or-self-mutilation.
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