How To Break Free From Cutting and Self-Harm

Sometimes people hurt themselves when going through an intensely painful time, or when struggling with symptoms of severe mental illness. If you’ve harmed yourself, it’s important to understand why it’s a problem, and what you can do to get help.

What Is Self-Harm?

Self-harm, also known as self-injury, is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of one’s own body, usually without suicidal intentions. Self-harming behavior could take several forms, but the most common are cutting, scratching, hitting, or biting the skin to deliberately hurt one’s self. Most people harm themselves to the point of visible bruising or bleeding, but cover up the signs of their self harm so that it’s harder for their loved ones to notice.

If you self-harm, you are not alone. Some estimates place the number of people who self-harm as high as one in five women, and one in seven men. HealthyPlace reports that as many as 90% of all people who self-harm started doing so in their teens.

Why Am I Harming Myself?

As with any harmful behavior or emotion, causes of self-harm will vary between people. Many people engage in self-harm because of:

  • Mental health diagnoses (especially depression) that are not sufficiently treated or managed
  • Traumatic events like a death in the family, or a divorce, that leave people feeling helpless
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth as a result of bullying or abuse

You may be drawn to self-harm out of a desire to control your pain. You may feel so emotionally numb that harming yourself allows you to at least feel something. Or you may feel a sense of release after hurting yourself. The secrecy may also be part of why it keeps happening. If no one notices your pain, you are likely to feel further isolated in that pain, prompting more self-harm.

Why Is Self-Harm Dangerous?

You may have convinced yourself that self-harm is not dangerous, since you are not attempting to kill yourself, and you are not actively hurting anyone but yourself. But self-harm is a dangerous, risky behavior that you need to get help with immediately. Why?

  • Self-harm could result in more serious injury than you intend.
  • You may be more likely to consider or plan suicide in the future than someone who has never harmed themselves.
  • The cyclical nature of self-harm, and its tendency to temporarily “soothe” means it often becomes an addiction. Addictive behavior puts you at risk of neglecting what’s normally important to you, and damages or strains even your closest relationships.

Breaking Free: How to Stop Self Harm

One of the biggest reasons people continue to self-harm, even when they know it’s dangerous, is fear that they will be judged or condemned by people they care about. At the TheHopeLine, we understand that self-harm is happening because of deep pain, and unmet needs. We’ll never judge you, and we offer a confidential place to get help for cutting, self-harm, and other addictive behaviors. Reach out today and chat with us. Help and freedom can start right away.

Need to learn more about self-harm to help yourself or a loved one? Search our library of blogs, podcasts and other resources to find answers to questions like:

  • Why Is Self-Harm Addictive?
  • What Are Alternative Coping Strategies for Self-Harm?
  • What Do I Do if I Think Someone I Love Is Hurting Themselves?

FAQ on Cutting/Self-Harm:

What does the Bible say about dealing with guilt?

The Bible says, ". . .there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2). Leaning on our faith in God, and getting support from people we trust to help us in our faith and with our mental health can help us heal from the pain of guilt and shame.

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Most Recent Blogs on Cutting/Self-Harm

How Can I Deal with the Guilt of My Past Without Self-Harming?

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Why We Seek Out Pain and Ways To Redirect Remember that kid in elementary school who always wanted to show you a trick? You said you had a headache, and he said, “Give me your hand.” He took your hand and pinched the nerve between your thumb and pointer finger. It..Read more

How to Manage Mental Health Without Self-Harming

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Healthy Coping Skills for Self-Harm/Cutting Urges We hear from a lot of people who struggle with self-harm. It's important to remember that self-harm can include a variety of behaviors. If you're putting yourself through physical, emotional, or mental suffering to punish yourself, to attempt to relieve stress, or to "release" deeper..Read more

What Can I Do if My Sibling is Cutting Themselves?

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How to Support Your Sibling Who Self-Harms Even though I’ve spent many years counseling people through dark times and messy life situations, it still breaks my heart to hear about people cutting themselves. Not only because it causes so much physical pain, but because it’s an attempt to release the pressure..Read more

What to Do if You Suspect a Loved One is Self-Harming

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How to Talk About Self-Harm Without Judgment You’re close to your loved ones, and if you think something is wrong, it’s good to trust your instincts and talk to them about ways you can help. If you’ve noticed marks on their body, that they try to cover up or ignore those..Read more

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Stories on Cutting/Self-Harm :

Thoughts of Harming Myself Started in 7th Grade

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Hey, my name is Julieanna. I am 15 years old. Last year I attempted suicide 2 times. I’ve self-harmed multiple times, and every time it gets worse. Please help! Releasing Emotional Pain The first time I cut myself it was to release the emotions and pain I’ve been holding onto...Read more

Struggling with Self-Harm: Finding Hope and Help

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Self-harm stems from pain so deep it feels as if it is the only way to take away the emotional pain.  If you have been abused, hurt, rejected, abandoned, or experienced anything else that has caused you emotional trauma and you have turned to self-harm to cope…we are here for you...Read more

Self-Injury: I Was Cutting Everyday Then I Found Hope

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I was cutting every day when I talked to a HopeCoach. It was not a pretty sight. I was dragged down by everyone around me. My father was a very abusive man. I would get hurt for just simply being in the same room as him. I attempted suicide and landed..Read more

Koriander & Ari’s Stories: Help for Self-Harm

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  Koriander’s Story Hi.  I’m writing from Brazil, I want to tell my story as a thank you to everyone who helped me along the way, including myself.  I used to cut myself in the arms when I was a teenager…for years. One day, my friend beg me to stop,..Read more

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Free eBook: Understanding a Relationship with God

Free eBook: Understanding a Relationship with God Do You Feel Like Life is Meaningless? Are you wondering what your purpose is? Do you have questions about what Christians believe or what it means to be a Christian? At TheHopeLine we believe real and lasting HOPE can only come through a relationship with Jesus. And this […]

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