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. Your self-harming behavior could take several forms, but the most common are cutting, scratching, hitting, or biting the skin to deliberately hurt yourself. 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. It’s one of the most common problems we address when people contact TheHopeLine. 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, your reasons for cutting or other self-harm may differ from someone else’s. But we’ve noticed that many people who contact TheHopeLine 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 still 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: Stopping 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 needs that feel unmet. 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 to chat with or email a mentor, or request prayer. 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:

  • What Can I Do Instead of Cutting to Feel Better?
  • Does God Still Love Me Even Though I Have Addictions?
  • What Do I Do if I Think Someone I Love is Hurting Themselves?

FAQ on Cutting/Self-Harm:

What is the psychological reason for teen cutting or self-harming?

Many people first began self-harm as an attempt to control and manage their pain. Often they are burdened by an emotional pain that they don’t know how to deal with and so they cover it up with physical pain. But self-harm quickly becomes an addictive behavior for many because it provides a false feeling of release without solving the problem or providing any true healing. Learn more from this personal story.

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Most Recent Blogs on Cutting/Self-Harm

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


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

Breaking Free from Self-Harm


Never Again. One Day at a Time. “Well, it’s been two weeks…but what about two months from now? Will I make it that far okay? ‘Three months free’, ‘One year free’, sounds impossible…How do I know I’ll even be able to hold out a day more?” It seems like just the other..Read more

Consequences of Cutting


Cutting is an addiction that is hard to overcome. There is nothing quite like it. Most cutters would say they don't want to kill themselves, they just like the sight of their blood, and the high it brings. Andi said she's been cutting for a year and a half, even..Read more

Resisting The Urge To Cut Yourself


In my blog How to Quit Cutting for Good, I talked about 3 things to focus on to help you quit cutting: Talk it out, Wake up to your actual feelings, and Seek God. Once you decide you're committed to stop cutting, you will find out what a struggle it is to go..Read more

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Stories on Cutting/Self-Harm :

Thoughts of Harming Myself Started in 7th Grade


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


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


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

Self-Harm: She Discovered It’s Okay to Ask for Help


  Lidya Discovered She Is Never Alone. TheHopeLine Is There For Her And You Lidya shared with TheHopeLine how important it is to know that you are never alone and that it is important to ask for help. I’m 15 years old and talking on TheHopeLine really helped me in terms..Read more

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Free eBook: Understanding a Relationship with God

A guide to understanding the basics of Christianity and a meaningful 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 […]

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