Self Injury Resources

What can I do if my child is hurting himself or herself?

Self Injury Basics

Most researchers agree that self injury is self-inflicted physical harm severe enough to cause tissue damage or marks that last for several hours and is done without suicidal intent or intent to attain pleasure. Self injury is done as a way of coping with overwhelming psychophysiological stimulation. Self injury is a way to express emotion, to deal with feelings of unreality or numbness, to make flashbacks stop, to punish the self and to stop self-hating thoughts or to deal with feelings of impending explosion. 

Although cutting is the most common form of SI, burning and head-banging are also very common. Other forms include biting, skin-picking, hair-pulling, or hitting the body with objects. SI is a destructive coping mechanism that appears to have addictive qualities. To help a person with SI, one must offer more effective coping strategies as a replacement. To ensure your child’s safety, seek the help of a professional. 

(Source: Self-Injury Beyond the Myths by Deb Martinson, 1999.)

The following resources provide information on self-injurious behavior, like cutting.

S.A.F.E. Alternatives  S.A.F.E.(Self-Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives is a nationally recognized leader in the treatment of self-injurious behavior such as cutting. Resource line: 1(800) DON'T CUT or 1(800) 366-8288

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