What is Self-Injury?

Self-Injury, Self-Harm, and Cutting

In research, it is often called "non-suicidal self-injury," or NSSI. Sometimes it is known as "cutting," which is one common forms of self-injury. However, cutting is not the only way people harm themselves.

Some ways people engage in self-injury include:

  • Cutting

  • Burning

  • Pinching, scratching, or pulling on skin with one's fingernails

  • Hair-pulling (also called trichotillomania)

  • Hitting or banging into walls

Our clinicians are experienced in working with suicidal thoughts and self-injury behaviors. We only use techniques backed by research, which means that you are more likely to get the results you hope for. Contact us today for a free phone consultation, or to schedule an appointment with a clinician.

If you think you may hurt yourself before you can meet, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


Why Do People Self-Injure?

Why do people self injure?

People self-injure for many reasons, but all are serious. People are most likely to commit self-injury when they are very upset. It is a very serious symptoms of an underlying mental health condition. It is also a major risk factor for later suicide attempts or completion.

Self-Injury is sometimes a symptom of:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Depression

  • Severe Anxiety

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • Thought Disorders (such as Schizophrenia)

  • Eating Disorders

Around 65% of persons who self-injure are female. It is most common in adolescence, with 17% of young people reporting engaging in self-injury at least once. Young people who report being bullied are more likely to self-harm.

Persons who self-harm are more likely to report:

  • Mood issues (such as depression and anxiety)

  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

  • Low self-esteem

  • Body image issues

  • Eating disorders

  • Dissociation (feeling separated from oneself)


Self-Injury Treatment

Self Injury Treatment

Self-injury is a very serious symptom, but effective treatment is available. Treatment starts with a thorough analysis of the behavior, and the underlying issues driving it.

Some people who have difficulty regulating their emotions commit self-harm when they are overwhelmed, as a way to deal with their intense feelings. In this case, the most effective treatments is Dialectical Behavior Therapy. DBT was designed for persons with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but it can be useful for anyone who commit self-harm as a way of managing negative emotions. Others commit self-injury because of intense period of depression. In this case, treatment involves addressing the problematic behavior, and treating the underlying depression using cognitive behavioral methods. Other issues, such as eating disorders, anxiety, and interpersonal difficulties, are addressed in order of severity.

Our therapists are trained and very experienced at treating self-injury. Contact us today to learn how we can help you or your loved one address this difficult symptom.