Nonsuicidal self-injury, often simply called self-injury, is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It’s typically not meant as a suicide attempt. Rather, this type of self-injury is a harmful way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration.
While self-injury 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.
Getting appropriate treatment can help you learn healthier ways to cope.
Signs and symptoms of self-injury may include:
• Scars, often in patterns
• Fresh cuts, scratches, bruises, bite marks or other wounds
• Excessive rubbing of an area to create a burn
• Keeping sharp objects on hand
• Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather
• Frequent reports of accidental injury
• Difficulties in interpersonal relationships
• Behavioral and emotional instability, impulsivity and unpredictability
• Statements of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness
Self-injury can cause a variety of complications, including:
• Worsening feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem
• Infection, either from wounds or from sharing tools
• Permanent scars or disfigurement
• Severe, possibly fatal injury
• Worsening of underlying issues and disorders, if not adequately treated
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