Self-harm or self-injury is a form of hurting oneself to relieve emotional distress or pain. While self-harm may bring a momentary sense of calm and a release of tension, it's usually followed by guilt and shame and the return of painful emotions.
Although life-threatening injuries are usually not intended, with self-injury comes the possibility of more-serious and even fatal self-aggressive actions. While self-harm may not usually be a suicide attempt, it can increase the risk of suicide because of the emotional problems that trigger self-injury. This pattern of damaging the body in times of distress can make suicide more likely.
Signs and symptoms of self-harm may include:
If you're injuring yourself, even in a minor way, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, reach out for help. Any form of self-injury is a sign of bigger issues that need to be addressed.
Talk to someone you trust — such as a friend, a trusted adult such as a loved one, doctor, spiritual leader, or a school counselor, nurse or teacher — who can help you take the first steps to get treatment. While you may feel ashamed and embarrassed about your behavior, you can find supportive, caring and non-judgmental help.
If you are the one that has severely injured yourself to the point that your injury may be life-threatening, or if you think you might attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Also consider these options if you're having suicidal thoughts: