Non-suicidal self injury, or self harm, occurs when someone intentionally causes hurt or injury to their body. These behaviors may include cutting, burning, choking, pinching, punching, or head banging, but self-harm can take many different forms.
Non-suicidal self injury is not always a sign of someone wanting to end their life, but instead is often a signal of emotional distress. These behaviors may be one of the few ways the person knows to handle strong or overwhelming feelings. In fact, some people report a sense of relief or release after harming themselves.
Treatment for self-harm behavior focuses on first identifying emotions and responses, and then building a repertoire of strategies and tools for managing these experiences in healthy ways. Mental health professionals will also help to identify whether other mental health concerns, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma, may be affecting or contributing to these behaviors.