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?

Most Recent Blogs on Cutting/Self-Harm

Healthy Self-Care for People in Addiction Recovery

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If you’re dealing with addiction or experiencing a relapse, true recovery is a challenge. When you feel overwhelmed by recovery, it can be tempting to self-soothe or self-medicate with unhealthy or addictive behaviors. To understand the difference between self-care and self-soothing, think of those times when you have an illness...Read more

Moving On: How to Properly Grieve and Heal After a Breakup

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The end of a relationship can feel devastating. It can be hard to sleep, eat, or concentrate. The things you once thought were fun don’t appeal anymore. Depending on how long you were together, or how intense the emotional attachment was, it may even feel like you don’t know what..Read more

Breaking Free from Self-Harm

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This guest post is written by Amanda Turner, the founder and head writer of Breaking Free Indeed.  Her hope is that by sharing her own story and the truths God has shown her, others might not feel so alone on their own journeys and can also find help in these..Read more

Consequences of Cutting

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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

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Sexual Abuse: Scared to Tell My Story

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When I found your site I was skeptical at first, I never told anyone about my dilemma. I was scared to tell my story, but knew I needed help. My Story of Sexual Abuse Before I was even five years old my half-brother, who is ten years older than me,..Read more

Abandoned: My Life Now Has Hope

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Felt It Was My Fault My Dad Left When my dad left 5 years ago, I started feeling like it was my fault that he left. I have been feeling like this for a long time. These feelings led to depression and anxiety. Abandoned Again Then I started feeling really..Read more

Abuse: Red Flags, but Married Him Anyway

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I Made a Bad Choice to Cover My Pain Before I married my husband, I lost someone who was my everything. He passed away, and I never coped with his loss.  I just wanted someone to love me and fill that spot in my heart. And that’s where my husband..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

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Free eBooks

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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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