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Self-Injury Awareness Day: Judge Less, Understand More

Posted 03-01-2018

March 1st is Self-Injury Awareness Day, an international event that aims to improve self-injury awareness across the world. It’s important to raise awareness about self-injury because it helps reduce fear and judgment, encouraging empathy and understanding so people who self-injure no longer feel like they have to suffer alone. The purpose of Self-Injury Awareness Day is to educate people about this condition so they are equipped to reach out to people whom self-injure.

Self-injury research shows that approximately 4% of adults engage in self-injury, although rates are much higher among teens and college students. Although cutting is the most common type of self-injury, other forms of self-harm may include:


  • Head banging
  • Picking wounds to interfere with healing
  • Burning
  • Biting
  • Pulling out hair
  • Carving symbols into the skin
  • Piercing
  • Punching or hitting
  • Breaking bones

Signs of Self-Injury

In many cases, it’s tough to detect self-injury, particularly since clothing can cover up injuries and individuals who self-injure may seem so calm and together. However, some of the red flags to look for include:

  • Blood stains on bedding, towels, or clothing
  • Covering up with long pants or long sleeves, even in very hot weather
  • Irritability and isolation
  • Unexplained scars or wounds from burns, bruises, or cuts
  • Possessing cutting instruments and sharp objects, such as needles, bottle caps, knives, glass shards, and razors
  • Unpredictability and impulsiveness
  • Frequent feelings of being worthless, hopeless, or helpless
  • Claiming to have accidents frequently
  • Spend a significant amount of time alone
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships

How to Help People Who Self-Injure

It can be shocking and scary to find out that a loved one is self-injuring. When you talk to your loved one, avoid being judgmental or critical, since a self-harming individual already feels alone and ashamed. If you’re dealing with a child, avoid making accusations or threats, but show concern. You can consult with your pediatrician or another medical professional.

If you’re a teenager and you have a friend who self-injures, talk to your friend and suggest that he or she talk to a school counselor, teacher, parent or another trusted adult. If you suspect an adult that you love is engaging in self-harm, gently encourage that individual to seek mental help and medical treatment.

Reaching Out for Help if You Self-Injure

If you engage in self-injury, the first step to take towards getting help is confiding in someone you trust. Although it can be scary, it can also be a huge relief. When you’re ready to talk, focus on sharing the feelings that are leading you to self-injure. Choose a method of communication that makes you feel comfortable. Once you confide in someone, give him or her time to process everything you are telling them. You can also talk to your physician about the problem and ask for help. If you’re unsure of where to turn, you can call the S.A.F.E. Alternatives information line at 800-366-8288 to find support and referrals for self-harm.

Myths and Facts About Self-Injury

Since self-harm is often a taboo subject, many people have some misconceptions about it. Here are a few of the common myths surrounding self-injury and the facts you need to know.

Myth #1 – Self-injuring is done to get attention.

Fact: People who self-injure usually do this in secret and try to hide their behavior.

Myth #2 – Self-injuring means the person wants to die.

Fact: Most people who engage in self-injury aren’t trying to kill themselves, but instead trying to deal with pain and problems.

Myth #3 – People who engage in self-injury are dangerous or crazy.

Fact: Many of these people do deal with depression or anxiety, much like millions of other people. However, this doesn’t make them dangerous or crazy. Self-injury is the way that they cope.

At PORT Health, we’re working to raise awareness of self-injury and we’re here to help individuals who are using self-injury to cope with other problems. If you’re ready to reach out for help, we offer therapy services that can help you address self-injury, improve your health and enrich your life. Find a location nearest you and take your first steps towards recovery.