People who self-harm often begin this behaviour in early adolescence, although self-harm can happen regardless of age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
Self-harm, sometimes also called self-injury, refers to behaviours in which a person deliberately physically hurts themselves. Although people of any age can engage in self-harming behaviour, it is more common in young people.
There are many ways in which a young person can engage in self-harm behaviours, but the most common is cutting the skin with sharp objects.
Injuries can range from moderate to severe, other forms of self-injury include:
Self-harm can be confusing and difficult to understand for those who have never experienced it. For many people, the idea of purposefully hurting yourself seems unnatural, and they have a difficult time discussing the topic. But it is important that we talk about self-harm and try to understand what motivates someone to harm themselves, because not all people do it for the same reason.
The best way to help someone stop self- harming is to help him or her address the underlying issues causing the behaviour.
Motivations for why young people may self-harm include:
How does self-harm effect young people?
People who self-harm often begin this behaviour in early adolescence, although self-harm can happen regardless of age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Young people who have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem are however more likely to self-harm.
There isn’t one absolute predictor of self-harm, but the following factors increase someone’s risk for self-harm:
Does self-harm relate to mental illness?
Although many young people who self-harm do not have a mental illness, it is more common for someone who self-harms to have a mental illness than someone who does not self-harm. Most often, young people who self-harm are looking for a way to deal with difficult emotions, and they will continue to self-harm until they learn more effective coping strategies.
Self-harm and suicide
It is common for people to confuse self-harm with failed suicide attempts, but this is incorrect. Self-harm is not an attempt to take your life. Despite the fact that self-harm and suicide often involve the same types of behaviours, the key difference is usually the motivation behind the behaviour.
Individuals who self-harm typically engage in these behaviours so that they can feel better, not so that they can end their lives. Although self-harm is different than suicide, many young people who self-harm may be depressed or become suicidal over time. Despite the fact that suicide is not the intention of the self-harm behaviour, it is possible for a young person to injure themselves so severely that this results in their death.
Can self-harm be treated?
There are a number of treatment options for self-harm behaviour. Deciding which course of action will best suit your individual needs should be done with the guidance of a mental health professional.