What is it?
Self-injury, also known as cutting or self-mutilation, occurs
when someone intentionally and repeatedly harms herself/himself.
The method most often used is cutting but other common behaviors
include burning, punching, and drinking something harmful, like bleach
Who does it?
It's estimated that about two million people in the U.S.
injure themselves in some way. The majority are teenagers or
young adults with young women outnumbering young men. They are of
all races and backgrounds.
Often, people say they hurt themselves to express emotional
pain or feelings they can't put into words.
- It can be a way to have control over your body
when you can't control anything else in your life. A lot of people
who cut themselves also have an eating disorder.
- Although they usually aren't trying to kill themselves,
sometimes they're unable to control the injury and die accidentally.
How can I help a friend
Ask about it. If your friend is hurting
herself, she may be glad to have you bring it up so she can talk
about it. If she's not injuring herself, she's not going to
start just because you said something about it.
Offer options but don't tell him what
he has to do or should do. If he is using self-injury as a
way to have some control, it won't help if you try to take control
of the situation. Helping your friend see ways to get help
- like talking to a parent, teacher, school counselor or mental health
professional- may be the best thing you can do for him.
Seek support. Knowing a friend
is hurting herself this way can be frightening and stressful. Consider
telling a teacher or other trusted adult. This person could help
your friend get the help she needs. You may feel that you don't have
the right to tell anyone else. But remember, you can still
talk to a mental health professional about how the situation is affecting
you, or you can get more information and advice from any number of
Remember you're not responsible for ending
the self-abuse. You can't make your friend stop
hurting himself or get help from a professional. The only sure
thing you can do is keep being a good friend.
How can I help myself?
Know that help is available. Treatment
is available for people who injure themselves. To learn about it,
try talking to a professional person around you, someone like your
school counselor. If you're not comfortable with that, think
about contacting your local mental health association or checking
out the S.A.F.E Alternatives website.
Know you are not alone. Because
so many people are self-injurers, it's likely that there are people
around who can understand and can help.
Know you can get better. This
is a difficult time in your life. However, with help, you can
get to the point where you don't hurt yourself anymore.
Get help. Now is the best time to
get help with this problem. If you wait, the problem will only get
bigger and soon everyone will know about it. But if you find
a way to meet it head on today, you'll be free of it and free to
get on with your life. Free! A good way to be.
Where can I learn more?
-Your school's counseling center
Mental Health Association
-National Mental Health Association's Resource Center: www.nmha.org 1-800-969-NMHA
-S.A.F.E. Alternatives (Self-Abuse Finally Ends)
Information Line: 1-800-DONT CUT
S.A.F.E. Alternatives website. Accessed June 2003.
Internet Explorer: http://www.selfinjury.com
Sullivan, Dana. "Self-Injury poorly understood
problem." www.cnn.com. 5 September 200