Self-Injury is intentional, non-life threatening, self-effected bodily harm or disfigurement of a socially unacceptable nature, performed to reduce psychological distress." (Barent Walsh, 2006)

“(Self-injurious behaviors) is one of the least understood behaviors of adolescence and appears to be increasing at a staggering rate. Today, for every 100,000 adolescents, it is estimated that between 750 and 1,800 will exhibit self-injurious behaviors (SIB) (Suyemoto & Kountz, 2000). This translates to 150,000 to 360,000 students nationwide, more than 70% of whom are female. "

"...The most common and concerning to middle and high school educators is Repetitive Self-Mutilation Syndrome (RSM).  Forms of RSM include cutting, scratching, burning, head banging, preventing wounds from healing, picking, poking, and hair pulling. Of these, cutting is by far the most common behavior.

RSM behaviors differ from many culturally sanctioned behaviors-such as ritual tattooing and piercing-that typically are intended as ornamentation or for established cultural, spiritual, or social purposes."

-Richard Lieberman

Warning Signs of Adolescent Self Injury

- Wearing long sleeves/long pants regardless of season. 

- Refusal to wear sleeveless or short sleeves tops, shorts, bathing suits.

 - Refusal to go swimming.

 - Avoiding exposure of certain body parts or demanding privacy when getting undressed

 - Wearing wrist warmers or wrist bands to cover the wrist.

 - Wearing gloves that have fingers cut off, or wearing socks on hand that has holes for fingers, thus covering the entire hand, wrist, and forearm.

 - Wearing inches of bracelets that cover wrists and refusal to remove them.

- Putting "thumb-holes" in sweatshirts so hands and arms remain covered.

- Carrying around or hiding knives, scissors, razors, box cutters, shards of glass, safety pins, tacks, or needles in bedroom, backpack, clothing,  or shoes. 

- Frequent accidents.

- Cuts that are parallel in a shape, design, pattern, or words

- Finding blood on towels, bed-sheets, used tissues in trash cans.

- Wearing a large razor blade around the neck as a necklace.

- Frequent bruises, scratches, cuts, burns, broken bones or bandages followed by flimsy excuses like: "A cat scratched me," "I was climbing a fence,"  "I was making jello," or "I fell off a mountain".


Self Harm Overview and Treatment

I Started Cutting Again How Do I Stop?

How Can I Help a Friend Who Cuts?

Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder)

Treatment Locator