Self-Injury: Are You Hurting Yourself?
What does hurting yourself mean?
Hurting yourself, sometimes called self-injury, is when a person
deliberately hurts his or her own body. Some self-injuries can leave scars that
won’t go away, while others leave marks or bruises that eventually will go
away. These are some forms of self-injury:
- cutting yourself (such as using a razor blade, knife or other sharp object
to cut the skin)
- punching yourself or other objects
- burning yourself with cigarettes, matches or candles
- pulling out your hair
- poking objects through body openings
- breaking your bones or bruising yourself
- plucking hair for hours
Why do some teens want to hurt themselves?
Many people cut themselves because it gives them a sense of relief. Some
people use cutting as a means to cope with any problem. Some teens say that
when they hurt themselves, they are trying to stop feeling lonely, angry, or
hopeless. Some teens who hurt themselves have low self-esteem, they may feel
unloved by their family and friends, and they may have an eating disorder, an
alcohol or drug problem, or may have been victims of abuse.
Teens who hurt themselves often keep their feelings “bottled up” inside and
have a hard time letting their feelings show. Some teens who hurt themselves
say that feeling the pain provides a sense of relief from intense feelings.
Cutting can relieve the tension from bottled up sadness or anxiety. Others hurt
themselves in order to “feel.” Often people who hold back strong emotions can
begin feeling numb, and cutting can be a way to cope with this because it
causes them to feel something. Some teens also may hurt themselves because they
want to fit in with others who do it.
If you are hurting yourself, PLEASE GET HELP
— It is possible to overcome the urge to cut. There are other
ways to find relief and cope with your emotions. Please talk to your parents,
your doctor, or an adult you trust, like a teacher or religious leader. At the
bottom of this page is a list of telephone numbers of organizations that can
Who are the people who hurt themselves?
People who hurt themselves come from all walks of life, no matter their age,
gender, race or ethnicity. About one in 100 people hurts himself or herself on
purpose. More females hurt themselves than males. Teens usually hurt themselves
by cutting with sharp objects.
What are the signs of self-injury:
These are some signs of self-injury:
- cuts or scars on the arms or legs
- hiding cuts or scars by wearing long sleeved shirts or pants, even in hot
- making poor excuses about how the injuries happened
Self-injury can be dangerous — cutting can lead to infections, scars,
numbness, and even hospitalization and death. People who share tools to cut
themselves are at risk of getting and spreading diseases like HIV and hepatitis. Teens who continue to
hurt themselves are less likely to learn how to cope with negative