Causes of Self-Injury

Self-injury often occurs in conjunction with other problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual identity concerns, or verbal or physical abuse. A person who self-injures may find that physical injuries can provide relief from emotional distress.

Many people use self-injury to control anxiety, anger, or guilt. For others, it is an escape from emotional numbness or feelings of detachment.

Dangers of Self-Injury

Aside from the obvious danger of causing a serious injury, self-injury is harmful because it does not solve underlying emotional problems. People who engage in self-injury don't learn how to manage their feelings in more effective ways. They may also feel guilty or ashamed about the behavior. It also interferes with their relationships with friends and family who are frightened by the behavior.

Self-injury is usually distinct from suicidal behavior. A person who self-injures wants to feel better, while the potential suicide wants to end all feelings. The best way to find out if a someone is contemplating suicide is to ask.

Common Features of Self-Injurers

  • Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and/or a history of physical or sexual abuse
  • Feeling lonely or alienated
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling empty or numb
  • Feeling overwhelmed by emotional pain

If you or someone you know has a problem with self-injury, contact a CAPS counselor at (812) 855-5711.

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