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What Is Self-Harm?

Self-Harm is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It’s typically not meant as a suicide attempt. Rather, this type of self-injury is a harmful way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration.

Although life-threatening injuries are usually not intended, with self-injury comes the possibility of more-serious and even fatal self-aggressive actions. Getting appropriate treatment can help with learning healthier ways to cope.



      Signs and symptoms of self-injury may include:

      • Scars, often in patterns
      • Fresh cuts, scratches, bruises, bite marks or other wounds
      • Excessive rubbing of an area to create a burn
      • Keeping sharp objects on hand
      • Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather
      • Frequent reports of accidental injury
      • Difficulties in interpersonal relationships
      • Behavioral and emotional instability, impulsivity and unpredictability
      • Statements of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness

      Forms of self-injury

      Self-injury usually occurs in private and is done in a controlled or ritualistic manner that often leaves a pattern on the skin. Examples of self-harm include:

      • Cutting (cuts or severe scratches with a sharp object)
      • Scratching
      • Burning (with lit matches, cigarettes or heated, sharp objects such as knives)
      • Carving words or symbols on the skin
      • Self-hitting, punching or head banging
      • Piercing the skin with sharp objects
      • Inserting objects under the skin

      Teen Girls & Self-Harm

      It is important to understand what motivates teens to harm themselves because not all people do it for the same reason. The best way to help someone to stop self- injuring is to help her address the underlying issues.

      When someone self-injures, they do not intend to die. Young people who self-injure may do so as a method to cope with stress– hurting themselves is often seen as a way to control their upsetting feelings. Others do so to dissociate from their problems (e.g. to distract themselves from emotional pain). Research suggests that self-injury can activate different chemicals in the brain which relieve emotional turmoil for a short period of time.

      Other motivations for why teens may self-injure include:

      • To reduce anxiety/tension
      • To reduce sadness and loneliness
      • To alleviate angry feelings
      • To punish oneself due to self-hatred
      • To get help from or show distress to others
      • To escape feelings of numbness (e.g. to feel something)

      Treating Self-Harm

      Overcoming this harmful behavior starts with an open mind and positive attitude, which are important parts of our treatment program at SCINSU.  An open mind is willing to see and accept that healing and happiness is possible, and a positive attitude replaces negative thoughts of comparison and inadequacy with feelings of gratitude and confidence.

      Our team of therapists are trained and experienced in treating these harmful behaviors and are truly invested in helping your daughter learn healthy ways of coping with depression, stress, or emotional trauma that may be the root cause of the behavior.

      Second Chances in Southern Utah

      We Can Help

      At SCINSU, we have an effective, proven approach to creating positive change, growth, and healing.  Our patented, 5-step program is unlike any other and is individualized for each and every student.  Our team is committed and passionate about providing specialized therapy and teaching important principles and skills that lead to renewed passion, purpose, and fulfillment.

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