Self-harm

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Definition

Self-harm refers to an individual intentionally inflicting harm on their body. About 1 in 100 people hurt themselves in this way. Females engage in self-harm more than males.1, 6

Examples of self-harm behavior include1, 3, 6:
  • Cutting oneself(such as using a razor blade, knife, or other sharp object to cut the skin)
  • Punching oneself or punching things (like a wall)
  • Burning oneself with cigarettes, matches, or candles
  • Pulling out hair
  • Poking objects through body openings
  • Breaking bones or causing bruising
Many people engage in self-harm because it gives them a sense of relief. Some people use self-harm to cope with a problem. Some people say that they are trying to stop feeling lonely, angry, or hopeless.1, 3, 6
There is no sure way to prevent someone from self-harm, but reducing the risks by encouraging someone to seek help is beneficial.3
  • Psychodynamic therapy: focuses on exploring past experiences and emotions
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: focuses on recognizing negative thought patterns and increasing coping skills
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy: can help a person learn positive coping methods
Funded by

Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience & Culture Laboratory
School of Psychology
Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Ottawa

136 Jean-Jacques Lussier, Ottawa, ON,
Canada, K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 ext. 4459
vtrac@uOttawa.ca