What is nonsuicidal self-injury?
Nonsuicidal self-injury is hurting yourself on purpose, without trying to kill yourself. For example, if you cut your skin to hurt but not to kill yourself, that is called a nonsuicidal self-injury—it's not attempted suicide. The most common examples of nonsuicidal self-injury are:
Cutting or stabbing your skin with a sharp object (for example, knife, razor blade, needle)
Burning your skin (usually with a cigarette)
Usually starts in the early teens and stops by early adulthood
Is equally common in boys and girls
Is more common in people with borderline personality disorder Borderline Personality Disorder Your personality is your unique way of thinking, understanding, reacting, and relating to people. A personality disorder isn't just an unusual personality. It's when your personality traits... read more , eating disorders, or addiction problems
Is often done on visible body parts, such as your forearms
Nonsuicidal self-injuries should be taken seriously. People who injure themselves on purpose are likely to do it again, and may be more likely to attempt or commit suicide.
In the United States, call or text 988 to be connected to a trained counselor at the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (or, chat online at 988lifeline.org) if:
You (or a person you know) need support for a suicidal, mental health, or substance use crisis
Contacting 988 is free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have the option to remain anonymous if you choose. A trained crisis counselor provides support and shares resources, if needed.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides live crisis center calling services in English and Spanish and uses translation services for over 250 additional languages. Text and chat are currently available in English only.
Why do people injure themselves on purpose?
The reason is not always clear, but self-injury may be a way that people try to:
Lower stressful or negative feelings
Punish themselves for something they think they did wrong
React to relationship problems
Get other people to help them
How do doctors treat nonsuicidal self-injury?
Doctors will ask about your injuries and what happened. They’ll take your actions seriously and try to figure out if you might try to kill yourself.
Doctors treat nonsuicidal self-injury with psychotherapy. Two types of psychotherapy used to treat nonsuicidal self-injury are:
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)—in weekly and individual sessions over the course of a year, the therapist helps you learn how to manage stress
Emotion regulation group therapy—helps you become aware of and accept negative emotions
Medicines can help some people. If you have mental health disorders besides nonsuicidal self-injury, doctors will treat those.
It's important to have follow-up doctors’ appointments to make sure the self-injury has stopped.