What is Self-Injury or Self-Harm?
Self-injury or self-harm involves deliberately injuring or causing pain to ones body. The most common way of engaging in self-injury is cutting the skin with razor blades or pieces of glass. Injuries can range from moderate to severe. Young people who have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem are more likely to self-injure. There isn’t one absolute predictor of self- injury, but the following predictors increase someone’s risk for self- injury.
- Abuse/neglect (past/present)
- Past episodes of self-harm
- Losses (e.g. deaths, break-ups)
- Inability or difficulty coping
- High self-criticism
- Addictive behaviours/ substance-use
- Peers/family members who self-harm
- Mental illness
Self-Harm is commonly seen as a coping mechanism. Research suggests that self-injury can activate different chemicals in the brain that relieve emotional turmoil for a short period of time. Relief through self-harming is often short lived, creating a vicious cycle that can become entrenched. Other motivations for why teens may self-injure include:
- To alleviate anxiety/tension
- To reduce or express feelings of sadness and loneliness
- To alleviate angry feelings
- To punish oneself due to self-hatred
- To get help from or show distress to others
People who engage in Self-Harm often display symptoms associated with Depression, anxiety or low self-esteem. In addition to having a strong support network, a professional assessment from a medical practitioner can help uncover underlying issues that may be influencing or triggering this behaviour. If you are worried that yourself or someone you love is engaging in Self-Harm or self-destructive behaviours, simply contact us to find out the options available.