Self-injury refers to a variety of non-suicidal behaviors in which a person intentionally hurts his or her body to relieve emotional pain or numbness. These behaviors may include cutting, burning, ripping skin, or punching objects or oneself with the intention of doing harm to one’s body. People who self-injure are at risk for infections if their wounds are not treated properly. Injuries can vary from minor cuts that heal quickly to very serious wounds that need medical care and/or leave permanent scars.
People self-injure for many different reasons. Some people use it to express their distress or ease their emotional pain while others find it to be a source of distraction. Others self-injure when they are angry at themselves or others or feel the need to control something in their lives. Self-injury frequently goes undetected because people usually make an effort to hide their injuries. When friends or family become aware of this behavior, it can be difficult for them to know how to share their concern and demonstrate their support. If you are worried about a friend, click here for tips on how to start the conversation and move forward.
Self-injury only provides temporary relief; it does not address the underlying issues that are causing the emotional pain. People who self-injure can learn to use new and healthier coping mechanisms with the help of a trained professional. New coping mechanisms usually involve self expression in the form of painting, writing, or dancing. Many people also find exercise or yoga to be helpful. Click here to read a brief article about distraction techniques and alternative coping strategies.
If you hurt yourself intentionally, remember that you are not alone. There are people who want to help. Talk to a counselor or your health care provider. You will not be the first person they have seen for this issue and it will be likely they have helped others recover from a similar problem. A professional can help you heal, both inside and out.
You can make an appointment at the Counseling Center by stopping by their office on the first floor of Jonsson Tower or by calling 518-580-5555.