Recognizing the signs and symptoms of self-injurious behavior can help provide support for those experiencing emotional distress. Commons signs of self-injury include deliberate cutting, scratching, or burning of the skin. Head-banging or punching oneself are also self-injuries behaviors.
Self-injurious behavior impacts approximately 4% of Americans, according to research from the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine. Self-injury is especially prevalent among teens and college students.
Individuals who engage in self-injury tend to struggle with expressing emotions, regulating emotions, and coping with distress. They may feel lonely, worthless, alone, or rejected. For those who struggle with accepting or loving their self, self-injury may be a way to punish themselves.
Those who self-injure may feel anxiety/ panic and out-of-control, wanting distraction. For some people, self-injury helps relieve tension associated with anxiety, anger, or frustration. For others, self-injury serves as an escape to feelings of numbness.
Injuries may be kept hidden and concealed under clothing due to shame, embarrassment, anxiety, stigma, or fear. Behaviors tend to take place when friends/ family members are sleeping or not at home. Injuries such as cuts, scratches, burns, or scarring may be covered by long sleeve clothing or done on places of the body such as the torso or thighs. Wearing long-sleeve clothing that does not match the season can be a possible sign, especially when there are other noticeable changes in behavior such as avoidance or difficulties in interpersonal relationships, low self-esteem, difficulties with emotional regulation, and problems at work or school.
Here are ways to Help Yourself or Others with Self-Injurious Behavior:
- Learn more about self-injury and where to find help. Understand that support is available; you do not need to suffer alone. At CARE Counseling, we’d love to help.
- Open a dialogue by starting the conversation with friends/ loved ones.
- Listen to one’s story in a caring, supportive, and nonjudgmental manner. Encourage use of healthy coping skills to help build resilience.
- Take talk and behaviors of self-injury as serious.
- Reach out to your local crisis recourses or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Call 911 or to seek help for life-threatening injuries or suicide attempt.
- Help remove the stigma associated self-injury and other mental health concerns by talking about self-harm and sharing your story.
Please join others as they speak up and seek help during Self-Injury Awareness Month. Your collective voice is so important as we work together to help reduce the stigma.
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