Self Harm (A complete guide)

Self Harm

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.

This blog will be discussing about the definition of self-harm, the different kinds of self-harm, how to stop this behaviour, definition of self-injury, self-harming in adult patients, the normality of this kind of behaviour, advice on this behaviour, support groups for teenagers who are suffering from this behaviour, management of this behaviour, controlled self-harm, and the emotional self-harm.

Self harm

Self-harm is a kind of behaviour where the person harms a part of the body due to the intention of death. This kind of behaviour is another name for suicide. Most of the time, this kind of behaviour is a call for help from affected patients. This is also a way for people to get rid of the debilitating tension that life is not worth living anymore. 

This is a kind of self-punishment for the person for living in this world and doing nothing but bad towards it. People who have completed suicide tend to have a history of this kind of destructive behavior. This is why it is important that the person who is doing this kind of negative behaviour be referred immediately to lose distress upon the family and the person. Some people who have undergone this kind of behaviour are always hoping to die but a cry to help them from feeling misery.

Self Harm (A complete guide)

Scratching self harm

Self-harm through scratching is when the person tries to relieve unbearable tension and as a coping mechanism from something distressing in the viewpoint of the person. Most people think that scratching is not considered as self-harm since this kind of behaviour does not cause bleeding like other kinds of destructive behaviours. Self-harming behaviour doesn’t matter if the person bleeds from the destructive action but the intention of the action is what matters which is to cope from distress through scratching. This kind of scratching serves to remind self-harming patients that they deserve to punish themselves which the centre of their perceptions.

Self harm scratching

Scratching is considered as a symptom of self-harming behaviour. This kind of negative behaviour can act as a compensatory behaviour to unexpressed feelings due to powerlessness felt by the patient. Scratching tends to happen a lot when the patient wishes to cut through the tissue damage on the arms, legs, or neck. These body parts are usually the targets of this kind of symptom in this destructive behaviour.

Scratching can happen when the patient is in severe stress which causes thoughts revolving how angry the patient is to oneself. Some patients may engage in this kind of behaviour because they were born with chemical irregularities in the brain that have caused the inclination for this kind of behaviour. Scratching may also occur if the patient has faced abuses in the early years such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, and verbal abuse. You can learn more about how abuse affects the susceptibility of the person to engage in this suicidal behaviour by buying this book on this website

Self Harm (A complete guide)

Self harm definition

Self-harm or self-injury is an intentional action taken by a patient to harm oneself in an attempt to die. This is an attempt since this kind of behaviour tends to be done as a coping mechanism in most days when the patient engages in this kind of behaviour. This kind of behaviour can be relieving in the short-term for patients since it relieves some tension of the present distress. This kind of behaviour is usually followed by shame when the patient realizes what he or she has done in the first few days of doing this kind of behaviour.

Self harm help

Helplines and mobile apps can help people who suffer from self-harm. These people are in need of immediate help since this kind of destructive behaviour can be associated with other kinds of psychological disorders. The Mind Charity can offer therapies for these patients who are engaging in this kind of behaviour. Talking therapies can be helpful for the lessening of these kinds of destructive behaviours.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy can help these affected patients on what better coping mechanisms are available aside from this kind of destructive behaviours. Family members may also act as sources of support for these affected patients but if family members are not trusted then close friends can be sources of support. A therapist or counsellor can give these affected patients the understanding and empathy they need to get rid of this negative coping mechanism. Mindfulness techniques are also helpful to relieve this negative coping mechanism which you can use for yourself or for an acquaintance who is engaging in this destructive behaviour by buying this book on this website.

How to stop self harm

To stop self-harm, the patient may try to find a listener to get someone to care about what the person is feeling. The patient must be able to express the feelings associated with this kind of negative behaviour which can help the listener to know the causes of engaging in this kind of behaviour. The patient must be able to know what causes these kinds of behaviour through therapists of writing in a journal. Therapists can also help the patient find other coping mechanisms that are more productive than this kind of destructive behavior such as drawing, write a poem, or listening to music to help express what the patient is feeling.

Self harming in adults

The kinds of behaviours that are associated with self-harming in adults are the same as some teenagers who engage in destructive behaviours. Most of the time, adults who engage in this kind of behaviour have a psychological disorder such as mood disorders and borderline personality disorder. Adults are more likely to hide this kind of destructive behaviour and not look for help. This can lead to suicidal tendencies in these affected individuals.

This kind of self-injurious behaviour is usually an attempt for the patient to keep loved ones close to the affected patient. Most adults have similar causes to why teenagers engage in self-injurious behaviour which is physical or sexual abuse or neglect in their childhood years. Affected adults tend to engage in these kinds of behaviours when interpersonal issues arise such as marriage problems and parenting issues. Affected adults can learn how to manage their interpersonal stresses by buying this book on this website.

Self Harm (A complete guide)

Self injury

Self-injury is another term for self-harm. This kind of behaviour may involve the following destructive behaviours such as cutting, too many body piercing, burning skin with hot objects, hair-pulling, skin picking, hitting the self-using hard objects, deliberate breaking of bones, and head-banging. This kind of destructive behavior may be caused by anxiety, stress, to fill up emotional numbness, and attempting to get others’ attention. These behaviours can be spotted in patients when several bruises are on the body that is not caused by accidents which will be verified by the patients’ records.

Why do I self harm

You may engage in self-harm for several reasons. You may be feeling emotionally numb lately due to the stress that you have been facing. This kind of destructive behavior can relieve this numbness temporarily but does not guarantee the person’s healing from the numb feeling. You may even try to distract yourself through this destructive behaviour. 

You might be feeling the need to release hidden tensions that you haven’t released when you were still a child. You might also need the physical reminder to the pain that you have felt from difficult times despite this kind of behaviour tends to be associated with your negative thoughts. This kind of destructive behavior may be your form of communication towards people that you really need to understand. You can learn more about different reasons that may have made you do this kind of destructive behavior by getting this book on this website

Self harm thoughts

Thoughts about self-harm can be difficult for patients to express when in a therapy session. Patients tend to reveal these thoughts through bodily manifestations which gives them the inclination to do these destructive behaviours such as cutting and burning. These thoughts may stem from the person’s feelings of loneliness since these people tend to withdraw when they start these destructive behaviours. These kinds of thoughts make these affected people feel more in control when they engage in these destructive behaviours.

Self harm meaning

Self-harm is a kind of destructive behaviour that helps release the pent-up emotions that stem from negative events in life. Guilt after these kinds of destructive behaviours are done will make these kinds of behaviours to increase in frequency. This is what makes self-harm different from suicide. Suicide in susceptible people tends to be intentional and most patients will not feel shame for this kind of act. 

Self-harming behaviours tend to be a form of distracting the person from reality’s cruel experiences. Most affected male patients tend to punch a wall as a kind of destructive behaviour. This can cause serious injury upon the affected patients especially if it considers the material made for the wall. These kinds of destructive behaviours may arise when a traumatic event has been experienced in the early years.

Self injury support

The Self Injury Support can help affected patients to get supportive volunteers that can help minimize the self-harming behaviours. The website for this support group can help affected patients be able to speak about their feelings about engaging in these kinds of destructive behaviours. Worksheets are available for these affected patients to help them deal with their destructive behaviours in real life. The group has been growing a charity fundraiser to gain more materials for them to deal with their specializations in treating affected patients from their destructive behaviours. 

Self harm behaviour

Different self-harm behaviours are done by people who have engaged in these kinds of behaviours. Most people would engage in alcohol abuse just to get rid of the emotional numbness felt by these people. Most people would even abuse drugs as a way of harming oneself. These affected people are more likely to avoid any form of social encounters since they may look suspicious to other people due to their long sleeves shirt or jackets and long pants.

These affected people will always come up with excuses when asked by other people about their strange clothes. These affected people will always make sure the sharp objects used for these kinds of destructive behaviours are near them. When their room is being visited by parents or other people, they tend to hide every sharp object in their room. These people will be noticed when a drop in their performance at school or work is present.

Self harm adults

Self-harming behaviours in adults are quite similar to the self-harming behaviours in teenagers. Most men who engage in these kinds of behaviours tend to punch their fist on the wall. This can cause severe damage to their hands and may not function well in important areas in a man’s life such as work. You can learn more about these kinds of behaviours in men here.

Is self harm a mental illness

Self-harm is a mental illness since it causes distress and danger to the person. This kind of behaviour is a coping mechanism to deal with emotional distress. This kind of behaviour tends to be followed by guilt upon doing this kind of behavior. Nevertheless, some people tend to engage in these behaviours more since they create a momentary relief of the overwhelming tension.

This kind of behaviour may lead to accidentally killing the person. Most people who engage in these kinds of behaviours tend to not engage in suicide attempts. These people are only looking for temporary relief for their stressful thoughts and emotions. This is considered as a mental illness since these people are hurting themselves in these coping mechanisms.

Self harm information

10% of young adults and teenagers engage in self-harming behaviours. This means that two out of a group of teenagers and young adults are using this coping mechanism to deal with emotional distress. These affected people tend to keep engaging in this kind of behavior when the need for temporary relief from stressful events and emotions is needed. Some patients who have engaged in these behaviours can be younger as 12.

Self harm support group

Several support groups are accessible to different kinds of people who are suffering from the cycle of these negative behaviours. The Self Injury Support group are serving women who are doing these behaviours. This group also has a helpline if a female patient needs support from the need to do the behaviour again. The Childline group is supporting children who are already engaging in these behaviours. 

As mentioned before, children as young as 12 can involve themselves in these behaviours because of family trouble or self-esteem issues. This is why this kind of group also have helplines for these distressed children. The BUS List is a group that works internationally to help different kinds of people in their need to get away from these negative behaviours. This group also has a helpline for people around the world to reach or they can reach them on the group’s website.

Self harm advice

Several suggestions have been given by psychologists on people who are used to doing these self-harming behaviours. These people should share this kind of behavior with someone they can trust. This can allow the person to let someone listen to his or her troubles associated with the behaviour. This can help the person to know that he or she doesn’t have to feel alone and someone can support them in stopping these behaviours.

Self harm treatment

Psychotherapies are effective in alleviating self-harming behaviours. These psychotherapies allow the client to talk about his or her feelings in engaging in these behaviours. Cognitive-behavioural therapy can help decrease the negative thoughts that may have caused these behaviours. This therapy can also decrease the negative behaviours and find a better coping mechanism for stressful situations.

Dialectical behaviour therapy is also helpful in alleviating these behaviours. This therapy teaches the client how to regulate his or her emotions after a stressful event. Mindfulness techniques are also taught in this therapy. Hospitalization is also a suggestion for these people to keep them from hurting themselves without supervision.

Self abuse

People tend to have these cognitive distortions that can abuse themselves. The refusal to acknowledge one’s self-worth can hurt the person in an emotional way. The act of not being kind to oneself can lead to a cycle of self-torment that may lead to suicide. This self-sabotage is never worth the time for any person.

Self harm face

Some people who use self-harming behaviours can lash out these behaviours on their face. The parts of the face that are affected are the ears, nose, neck, and forehead. Some people who engage in these behaviours only want to feel what it’s like to scratch a part of their faces. They also like to see how affected the part is by the scratches.

Most of these people scratch on their necks. They make sure that the scratch is deep enough so they could feel the pain. These behaviours are usually a cry for help. These behaviours need to be stopped before the person regrets it in the end. 

Chicken scratch self harm

Chicken scratching is a term used for scratching as part of self-harming behaviours. This is because most people who engage in these behaviours tend to scratch like how chickens scratch. These people make sure that scratch tears their skins to actualize bleeding. Some people get addicted to this behaviour.

Self harm cuts

Cutting is one of the self-harming behaviours used by susceptible people. Most affected people tend to scratch persistently that scars start to form on the area of the scratch. Some affected people will scratch deep on the skin to create bleeding. This situation makes them want to see the cuts of their scratching.

This behaviour makes these people gain relief. Since they get guilty after the behaviour, they tend to hide the scratches under baggy clothes. Other people can see this if the person wasn’t always wearing baggy clothes at school or work. If they are being asked about their clothes, these people tend to hide the real cause by giving possible excuses such as it’s cold outside.

Is self harm normal

Self-harm is quite common in some communities but this is an unhealthy coping mechanism. Some people use it to gain some help from someone who truly cares for them. Some of these people who engage in these behaviours tend to be normal then once thought. These people do these behaviours to also gain some control in their lives.

Is biting yourself self harm

Biting yourself is a form of self-harm. This is because of this behaviour that might become an addiction. People who engage in these negative behaviours tend to rely on these coping mechanisms to feel temporary relief from severe problems. These people may even bite themselves deep to make sure the pain is felt by the person.

The person will feel guilty about this behaviour. Nevertheless, these people keep doing this behaviour to get more control in their life. This behaviour also makes them more worthless which is the feeling they are familiar with. These people should be treated immediately since this can cause accidental suicide for the person who is trying hard to reach severe pain caused by this behaviour.

Self harm management

The management of self-harming behaviours in young people has been resolved through acute hospitalization for these patients. This can help patients be monitored by mental health professionals to stop constant negative behaviours. This action is also beneficial for loved ones who care about the patient and wish that the patient doesn’t kill himself or herself because of these behaviours. The patient will also receive counselling sessions in the course of his or her hospitalization.

Emotional self harm

Emotional self-harm is a kind of self-harming behaviour that makes people use their inner feelings to make them feel horrible in their lives. Most people can’t control these inner criticisms that can interrupt their function in their lives. These critical thoughts can make people to not being active in their lives. This inner turmoil can become a hindrance to one’s social relationships.

This is why these people tend to withdraw. These critical thoughts tend to stem from parents and people we value in our childhood years. These thoughts tend to last a long time if one hasn’t set up his or her self-esteem. This can become a cycle if one doesn’t learn that the self can be independent of these past thoughts.

Teenage self harm support groups

Self-harm support groups for teenagers are accessible on various online websites. The Young Minds group has a website that gives guidance on these young people on what to do when the need to do these negative behaviours will come. These young people can join seminars and activities held by this group. This can help these young people to realize that there is more fun in socializing than engaging in behaviours that may let them lose important moments in their lives.

Self Harm (A complete guide)

Self harm questions

Questions have been raised about self-harm. Most people confuse this negative behaviour to suicide. This is not always the case for people who engage in this behaviour. Most people who do self-harm behaviours tend to not be suicidal.

These people are only using these behaviours to gain control in their lives. Most people are also confused about which people engage in these behaviours. Most people who engage in these behaviours are adolescents and young adults. Other people of various ages have been known to engage in these behaviours as well but the majority lands in the adolescents and young adults.

Controlled self harm

Self-harm makes some susceptible people be more in control of their lives. These people make these behaviours as acts of punishing themselves to make them realize that they are doing something wrong. Although these behaviours also make these people realize that they are doing bad behaviours. Nevertheless, they find themselves continuously engaging in these behaviours which makes most people doubt on what kind of control can be obtained from these behaviours.


Self-harm is a behaviour that allows the person to hurt himself or herself but not to the point of killing oneself. Several reasons have been found on why people engage in these behaviours such as a form of distraction and self-control. Treatments and support groups can help people who are engaging in these behaviours to find more coping mechanisms that are more helpful than these behaviours. You can comment below about this behaviour and share your experiences with these behaviours in your loved ones or acquaintances.

FAQ Questions

Do self-harm scars go away?

Self-harm scars do not go away permanently.

Is picking a form of self-harm?

Picking is a form of self-harm.

What is intentional self-harm?

Intentional self-harm is a behaviour where the person is harming oneself to the point of creating an injury.

Can laser surgery remove self-harm scars?

Laser surgery can remove self-harm scars.

Is tattooing a form of self-harm?

Getting tattoos is a form of self-harm if the tattoos are the kind where they are etched in the skin and not inked by the tattoo artist.


Crown. (2018, May). Overview Self-harm. NHS. Retrieved from here.SupportLine. (n. d.). Problems. Retrieved from here.

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