Nonsuicidal Self-Injury

Nonsuicidal Self-Injury / Self Harm

Including self-harm, cutting, self-mutilation

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), also called self-harm or self-mutilation, takes place when someone deliberately injures their body, without lethal intent.
Some more common methods of NSSI include skin cutting, head banging or hitting and burning. Other forms of self-harm can be excessive scratching, self-punching, infecting oneself, inserting objects into their body, drinking something destructive (such as cleanser, bleach or detergent), vomiting, hair pulling, skin picking, and breaking bones purposefully. Many people who self-harm injure themselves in more than one way.

How Common Is Self-Injury?

NSSI is fairly common. Researchers found that between 17 to 35 percent of college students self-harm by cutting, carving, burning, or otherwise hurting themselves. Most people who self-harm are not suicidal, 60 percent are female, and most outgrow the behavior as they get older.

Why do Some People Self Harm?

Self-harm is considered compulsive. People who engage in self-harm often express they feel unable to cope with negative feelings, feel lonely, bored or empty inside, feel over- or under-stimulated, feel misunderstood, afraid of close relationships and/or overwhelmed by responsibilities. Self-injury such as cutting themselves can be a way to relieve painful emotions and is not intended as suicide. Relief is temporary, however, and this dangerous behavior can become an addiction without professional treatment.
Self-harm may also be a way for someone to have control over their own body when everything else in their life feels out of control. A lot of people who hurt themselves may also have an eating disorder.

A person who self-injures may intend to:

  • Obtain relief from a negative feeling or mental state
  • Resolve an interpersonal difficulty, like a disagreement with a friend or loved one
  • Deal with an intrapersonal problem, like boredom
  • Induce a positive feeling state

Source: Mental Health America.
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