Self-injurious behavior is defined as deliberate injury inflicted to one’s own body, without the intent to die. An important distinction is that it is deliberate and causes bodily/tissue damage, but is without suicidal thoughts. Self-injury is often referred to as para-suicidal behavior, self-mutilation, self-harm, and self-abuse.

Self-injurious behaviors include:

  • Cutting
  • Scratching
  • Carving
  • Branding
  • Burning
  • Pulling hair
  • Picking skin
  • Hitting oneself
  • Head banging
  • Breaking bones

There can be several reasons for self-injury behavior such as, a maladaptive way of coping with intense emotions, to soothe or calm one’s emotions, to regain emotional balance, to release tension, or as self-punishment.

Please be aware that certain myths exist about self-injury, for example, that self-injury is a failed suicide attempt; it is done for attention or to manipulate others; that it is not a serious problem if the wounds are “not that bad”; or that self-injury can’t be treated.

Our professional therapists can help stop this behavior by teaching an individual to learn how to tolerate and reduce emotional pain. Without early identification and intervention, adolescents can develop an addictive dependence on self-injury as a coping skill. While self-injuring is not necessarily suicidal, if left untreated it may lead to suicidal behavior.