6 Signs Someone May Be Self-Injuring

People who self-harm can seriously hurt themselves. While they are continuing to use this as a ‘coping’ mechanism they are not learning effective ways of managing distress.

Not all the effects of self-injury are physical. It can also impact someone’s behavior and emotional well-being. Changes in mood or behavior can be signs of other mental health challenges, but it’s important to check in with the person if you notice it in combination with the above signs of self-injury.

“Suicide is a way to end your life. Self-injury is a coping strategy,” Seliner says. “However, individuals who self-injure are nine times more likely to attempt suicide, and many of our clients describe chronic suicidal thoughts at the time of injury.”

Social media is one reason my teen patients are cutting themselves

Types and signs – Self-harm

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It can take time to overcome cutting or other kinds of self-injury. But therapists and counselors are trained to help people get through it and find inner strengths that help them heal. Then they can use those strengths to cope with life’s problems in a healthy way.

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Why Do People Hurt Themselves?

Although it may provide some temporary relief from a terrible feeling, people who self-harm tend to agree that it isn’t a good way to get that relief. For one thing, the relief doesn’t last. The troubles that triggered it remain — they’re just masked over.

“I typically see teens after they’ve seen two or three other therapists who don’t know what to do or use antiquated methods,” VandeLinde says. “We don’t snap your wrist to create pain. We don’t take a red marker and draw a line on your wrist.”

Self-harm can escalate if the original issue — anxiety, depression, trauma, etc. — gets worse, or “because the individual finds they need to increase the intensity and frequency [of self-harm] to get the same effect,” Seliner says.

6 Signs Someone May Be Self-Injuring


There are better ways to deal with troubles than cutting or other self-harm — healthier, long-lasting ways that don’t leave a person with emotional and physical scars. The first step is to get help with the troubles that led to the behavior in the first place. Here are some ideas for doing that:

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Can You Outgrow It?

People who cut or self-injure sometimes have other mental health problems that contribute to their emotional tension. Cutting is sometimes (but not always) associated with depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive thinking, or compulsive behaviors. It can also be a sign of mental health problems that cause people to have trouble controlling their impulses or to take unnecessary risks. Some people who self-harm have problems with drug or alcohol abuse.

Find a qualified professional. If you notice any signs of self-harm or just have a gut feeling about it, seek out a qualified mental health professional who has experience with self-harm. There’s not a certification for self-harm, so it’s important to find someone who’s successfully worked clients through this issue in the past.

Though adults and children can engage in self-harm, the reported numbers of cases are much lower than in teens and young adults.

Cutting & Self-Injury

VandeLinde’s clients have had success with dialectical behavior therapy, a type of cognitive behavior therapy that teaches skills to help you manage stress and emotions.

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It’s important that they speak to a GP about the underlying issue. They should ask for treatment or therapy.

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If you notice that somebody is self-harming, approach the subject with care and understanding.

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Signs of self-harm

Experts say people often make these types of remarks without thinking about them, but they offer an opportunity to talk with someone about self-harm.

If your child self-harms, it doesn’t mean they’re going to commit suicide. But they should be assessed for what mental health professionals call suicidality, or the risk of suicide.

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