Warning: This is an incredibly sensitive topic and this article does not replace professional diagnosis, advice, and treatment. If you or your loved ones practise the act of self-harm, please consult a trained medical professional who will be able to help you better. Please also refer to the pages on depression and anxiety for more information. Please also note that you are not alone and help is always around.
Self-harm, also known as cutting or non-suicidal self-injury, is the act of causing an injury to the body without suicidal ideation. People practise self-harm for a variety of reasons, which include an intention to punish oneself or a sense of relief from negative emotions. Self-harm behaviours are also associated with other psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety, and disordered eating behaviours.
Dangers of self-harm
While some injuries are superficial and do not require treatment apart from gentle cleansing and dressing, there are health hazards associated with cutting. People who cut themselves are more prone to blood-borne infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and C. Wounds may also become infected and require immediate treatment.
It is not always easy to spot risk factors or signs of cutting behaviour. Parents and caregivers, school teachers, and even religious workers are important in identifying risk factors and observing any mood or behavioural changes in a child or teenager. It requires a community effort with governmental support to increase programmes that can provide education and raise awareness of the stigma associated with self-harm. Therefore, much more can be done around the world to protect our youth.
A series of behavioural and cognitive therapy will be helpful in addressing some of the underlying problems that these people face. As mentioned above, there are many reasons as to why people cut themselves, and it is important to address these issues. Other factors that will improve prognosis includes strong family and community support and compliance to treatment.
Please remember that you are not alone. If you or someone you know are suffering, please see a doctor.