Why do people self-injure, and what to do about it
You may have noticed cuts or burns on your daughter’s skin, or been shocked when your teenager tells you about a friend who is intentionally injuring themselves. Perhaps you have had the compulsion to harm yourself, and felt ashamed of the marks left behind.
Whenever self-injury is discovered, it is natural to feel alarmed and concerned. However, this behavior is most often an attempt to feel better, not to end one’s life, and it is more common than you might think – some 12-14% of adolescents engage in Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) as a coping mechanism, albeit an ineffective strategy for dealing with stress, trauma, or mental health issues.
Approaching NSSI in a non-judgmental, caring manner goes a long way toward opening up lines of communication. If you are the “cutter”, don’t let shame and embarrassment prevent you from seeking professional help. If you are concerned about someone else who is self-injuring, encourage them to get help – not because cutting is “wrong” or “weird”, but because you are worried about the pain or stress that they are coping with through NSSI. Let them know that while you may not understand their compulsion to self-injure, you know that there are coping strategies they can learn over time to deal more effectively with their troubles.
Therapy for NSSI may involve getting to the root of deep emotional pain, and it is important to be patient with yourself or your loved one as they work through this. Over time, and with practice and reinforcement, healthier coping skills can be learned. A trained counselor will be an invaluable resource in overcoming self-injury and leading a happier, healthier life!
Find out more in a clinical paper about NSSI by clicking here to visit Carrier Clinic’s information Center.
Or click here to view a video on the subject on our YouTube Channel