Self-harm is a complex and potentially dangerous behavior that involves intentionally causing harm to oneself. It is estimated that between 12% and 15% of adolescents engage in some form of self-harm (Klonsky, 2011). While self-harm may provide temporary relief from emotional pain or distress, it can also lead to long-term physical and emotional damage.
Self-harm can take many forms, including cutting, burning, scratching, or hitting oneself. The reasons why individuals engage in self-harm are complex and can vary from person to person. Some individuals may use self-harm as a way to cope with difficult emotions or to gain a sense of control over their lives. Others may engage in self-harm as a way to punish themselves or to communicate distress to others (Muehlenkamp & Gutierrez, 2007).
One of the most significant dangers of self-harm is the risk of serious injury or death. While many individuals who engage in self-harm do not intend to die, the behavior can lead to accidental or intentional suicide (Lloyd-Richardson et al., 2007). Additionally, self-harm can lead to scarring, infection, or other long-term physical consequences.
If you or someone you know is engaging in self-harm, it is important to seek help. There are several resources available, including mental health professionals, hotlines, and support groups. It is important to understand that self-harm is a behavior that requires professional intervention and support to address effectively.
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Klonsky, E. D. (2011). Non-suicidal self-injury in United States adults: prevalence, sociodemographics, topography and functions. Psychological Medicine, 41(9), 1981-1986. doi:10.1017/S003329171100017X
Lloyd-Richardson, E. E., Perrine, N., Dierker, L., & Kelley, M. L. (2007). Characteristics and functions of non-suicidal self-injury in a community sample of adolescents. Psychological Medicine, 37(8), 1183-1192. doi:10.1017/S003329170700027X
Muehlenkamp, J. J., & Gutierrez, P. M. (2007). An investigation of differences between self-injurious behavior and suicide attempts in a sample of adolescents. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 37(2), 179-192. doi:10.1521/suli.2007.37.2.179