Self-harm is anything that someone does to hurt themselves purposely. Whether that includes cutting or other actions, many teens use these actions to deal with complicated feelings, memories, or situations. Some signs can help family members and friends realize when someone they know is harming themselves.
Why Do People Attempt Self-Harm?
In many cases, self-harm is a response to complicated feelings. For example, someone who is too stressed or anxious may feel they can release those feelings by harming themselves.
While some people may believe that self-harm only happens when someone is suicidal, that isn’t true at all. People who self-harm are more likely to be interested in releasing their pain or stress without wanting to die. Usually, self-harm is not meant as a suicide attempt, though it can be just as dangerous in some cases.
Some other reasons why people have said that they chose to self-harm include:
- Believing that the pain was better than feeling empty or numb
- Thinking that the physical pain brought them temporary relief from tension
- Wanting to punish themselves for their perceived faults or flaws
The reality is that self-harming may be a sign of a deeper issue, like depression or anxiety, that does need medical treatment.
What Are the Signs of Self-Harm?
There are many symptoms of self-injury, such as:
- Frequent excuses to explain away injuries
- Frequent reports of injury
- Trouble in interpersonal relationships
- Feeling helpless
- Feeling worthless or hopeless
- Carrying sharp objects on hand
- Fresh scratches, bite marks, or bruises on the body
- Scars, usually in patterns such as lines on the inner arms or thighs
- Friction burns
- Wearing long sleeves or pants despite hot weather conditions
- Behavior changes, like sudden impulsivity or instability
All of these could be signs that someone you know and love is self-harming. Remember, self-harming isn’t just cutting. There are many different ways that people could harm themselves.
Is Self-Injury a Sign of Mental Illness?
Self-injury may be a sign of an underlying mental illness, but it is not a mental illness in and of itself. Self-harm is an unhealthy way to cope with stress or other issues, and it is one that benefits from professional help.
Some illnesses are associated with self-harming, such as:
- Eating disorders
- Borderline personality disorder
- Substance use disorders
People who choose to injure themselves may also be at a higher risk of committing suicide or having suicidal thoughts, which is why a professional intervention may be a good idea.
What Are the Consequences of Self-Harming?
The consequences of self-harm may include infections of the wounds, broken bones, permanent disfigurement, shame or guilt, and a higher risk of major depression. People who self-harm may isolate themselves from their friends and family or turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope.
Contact Foothills at Red Oak Recovery for Help
People who choose to self-harm may have underlying mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. It is important to understand that these symptoms can be controlled, and underlying mental health conditions can be treated. At Foothills at Red Oak Recovery, we are an adolescent treatment program that can help teen boys who are struggling with self-injury and other mental health conditions.
If you believe that your child or a child you know is battling a severe mental health condition, and you see the signs of self-harm, contact our hotline today at 866.300.5275. We are here to give you more guidance on what to expect if you enroll your child into a recovery program. There is help available, and any teen or young adult can overcome these challenging feelings and emotions that they’re battling with professional support.