Self-harm is the act of injuring yourself on purpose, generally as a coping mechanism in response to emotional distress or overload.
Self-harm can take many forms, including physically or emotionally harmful behaviors or actions like (but not limited to) cutting, scratching, burning, or hitting yourself. It can also include knowingly exposing yourself to situations and experiences that cause you distress or pain.
It can co-occur with eating disorders and substance use disorders, as well as other mental health issues, the symptoms of which can also manifest as forms of self-harm. Regardless of the specifics, all forms of self-harming should be taken seriously.
Self-harm that does not accompany suicidal ideation is, at times diagnosed as non-suicidal self-injury disorder. Though self-harm can create a temporary sense of relief, it’s often part of a cycle that worsens negative feelings and symptoms. Speaking to a therapist can be helpful for working through the issues that may lead to self-harm, and learning less harmful tools for coping.
Self-harm can accompany or lead to suicidal ideation. If you’re experiencing suicidal ideation, you can and should reach out for support. If you feel you’re in an emergency situation, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.