Often offering a short-term sense of relief, self-harm, is used as a means to cope with painful and overwhelming thoughts and feelings. Because of the temporary relief experienced immediately following the behavior, self-harm can easily become a normal way to deal with life’s difficulties, thereby creating a powerful cycle of ‘self-treatment’ difficult to overcome.
Most acts of self-harm include the cutting, burning, or picking away of the superficial layers of the skin; often on areas of the body that are easy to conceal— such as the upper arms, legs, and stomach areas. However, self-harm may also include: head banging, hair pulling, punching, pinching, or biting the skin causing swelling, redness, and bruising to the area. Although often not a suicide attempt, self-poisoning and overdosing are also methods employed to temporarily relieve a person of the pain they are feeling.
It is important to realize that self-harm is not a form of attention-seeking. This behavior is often done in private, and as a means to reclaim a sense of control in the person’s own life— and is usually a direct response to the lack of which they have in a current or had in a past experience.