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Why do people self-harm?

58 Answers
Last Updated: 01/25/2021 at 1:56pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Polly Letsch, LCSW

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

I provide non-judgmental, person-centered, objective therapeutic treatment for individuals of all ages to improve social, emotional, mental and other areas of functioning.

Top Rated Answers
November 19th, 2014 7:43pm
There are many different reasons as to why people self-harm. Like every other issue, it varies from person to person. It can go from being very easy to understand to very complicated so let me break it down here a little bit. Imagine a place where you're all alone and you're being dragged down in an ocean. Deeper and deeper with no possible escape. Now imagine finding a rope that can pull you out of that suffocation. You would do anything at that point just to get out of th water, right? And that rope is th only escape you see so when out of desperation you hold on to that and are pulled out from th water, imagine the relief. That's how self-harm works. With th ocean being th depression you're surrounded with and self-harm that ray of hope you see as an escape. So why do people self-harm? In an attempt to find relief.
March 22nd, 2015 12:29am
People self harm for a number of reasons. Being someone who deals with cutting, a few insights on that world and to know; self harm isn't a suicide attempt in any way shape or form when they are doing it for the act of self-harm. SH includes but is not limited to: cutting, bruising, hair pulling, bone breaking, head banging and biting. People SH because: they want to feel something, they feel numb or want to be in control. They might feel like they deserve pain or that they don't have enough pain. (You see self-harm as them hurting themselves too much, we might see it as never hurting enough) People SH also from bullying, home life, abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and sometimes suicide. However, just because a person SH doesn't mean that they're suicidal. People are still people, they [we] are no less of human than you are because of what we do. Although SH isn't a good way to cope, and we need to find better ways to cope, always know that 7cups is here to support you throughout your time of struggle and throughout your time in need. Stay strong!
October 6th, 2014 9:51am
People self harm cos we feel so much emotional pain and we turn the inside pain outside therefore giving it a focus which can be seen by the eye and making it easier to deal with. Physical pain is often easier to overcome than emotional pain and for this reason self-harm suddenly becomes less of a ghastly act and becomes something a little more understandable. Many find the physical pain comforting as it is temporarily distracting from any other forms of pain while others feel no pain whatsoever when one harm themselves but feel in control of what they are doing when they cannot control the actual feelings they are experiencing.
October 31st, 2014 9:01pm
People self-harm, because something hurts them inside so much that they can't handle it anymore, so to distract themselves they hurt their body to distract their mind.
September 13th, 2014 2:43am
some people self harm because they feel they deserve it, some because they feel numb inside and want to feel something, anything, at all. there are many reasons, as self harm is a complex thing, but these are the ones that I have heard of the most
October 6th, 2014 9:51pm
Self-harm is an escape, a way of expressing feelings, or just feeling something. Harming ones self perhaps seems like a more reasonable option than harming things around one. Or when a person is feeling numb, it's the easiest way to feel something. Self-harm can become an addiction... once you start, it is hard to stop and can become possible to harm for no apparent reason.
October 24th, 2014 1:09am
Self-harm can be a way of coping with problems. It may help you express feelings you can’t put into words, distract you from your life, or release emotional pain. Afterwards, you probably feel better—at least for a little while. But then the painful feelings return, and you feel the urge to hurt yourself again. If you want to stop but don’t know how, remember this: you deserve to feel better, and you can get there without hurting yourself.
October 24th, 2014 9:53pm
It's just out of frustration and immense pain and psychological and social lagging that make a person so stressed out that he/she feels harming themselves is easier than overcoming the pressure of the above things..
October 27th, 2014 6:54pm
Often self harm is a sign of some deeper hurt. Hoping to dull pain on the inside by inflicting pain of the outside.
November 2nd, 2014 11:43pm
Very often, people find that physical pain can override the strong debilitating mental and emotional pain they are feeling. Anything that takes their mind off their problems is something they are willing to do - self harm is no exception.
November 3rd, 2014 12:53am
To relieve themselves from stressful or depressing situations. People often use self-harm as a way to escape.
November 3rd, 2014 7:17am
The reasons differ from person to person, but it all stems down to something missing in their life. Attention, love, companionship, stability, etc.
September 23rd, 2014 6:02pm
I think because there are times where physical pain seems far less than the mental pain you are feeling. Also sometimes it seems like the only way to feel anything at all. Another reason is it can be a way for people to realize and notice what your are experiencing.
October 1st, 2014 1:47am
cause they feel empty ,they feel that everyone is avoiding them, they feel worthless and that they don't deserve anything
October 1st, 2014 4:11pm
In my opinion, people "self-harm" to express deep feeling or to distract themselves from those deep feelings. Those feelings are often based on beliefs that have been embedded as a result of negative life experiences. People self-harm because it's the only way they know to get relief from their pain and the only way they know how to feel calm.
October 22nd, 2014 9:11pm
Self-harm can be really hard to understand. It involves hurting our own bodies in order to feel relief from our problems. It distracts us by making us focus on the physical pain instead of on our emotional pain. Self-harming can become addicting, causing a cycle of pain and relief that is very hard to break. However, self-harm is never a healthy way to cope with our feelings. It can evolve into worse ways of harming. Since this is only a temporary relief, the best solution is finding healthier ways to cope that do not involve causing harm to our own bodies.
October 24th, 2014 11:58pm
I self-harmed for the better part of 3 years, and to this day I cannot say when life gets tough it doesn't still cross my mind. I wish I could tell you why I did it, but I honestly don't know. I have asked myself that for years, and I haven't come out with a good reason. I doubt that helps, since it didn't answer your question. But not everyone knows why.... sometimes the reason isn't meant to be known.
October 25th, 2014 5:31pm
A lot of people with depression stop feeling anything feeling anything is a relief so they decide to feel pain, people see it as a weakness or a stupid thing to do but in reality they just want to feel something
October 26th, 2014 2:49pm
Self harm can be a way to release unresolved emotions, or because we feel like we aren't having emotions at all and want to feel something. It can be a way to punish yourself, or just a way to cope. It is maladaptive and unhealthy but in a crisis situation, it is a way to keep going and is sometimes necessary to the person. Because it is used as a coping mechanism it can also be very addictive so the person involved needs to be emotionally ready to deal with the reasons behind their self harm and able to find a more positive alternative for themselves.
October 27th, 2014 9:13am
In my case (when i used to do it), i did it to calm myself. Every time i got very bad breakdowns at night, i hurt myself with a blade.
November 3rd, 2014 12:10pm
from what we know they possibly self harm to punish one's self and to cope with problem's around them
November 5th, 2014 12:50am
People self-harm for many reasons. Personally, the reason I used to self-harm was because it made me feel in control of my feelings. I had a very hard time managing my emotions, especially painful ones. Whenever something happened that made me feel out of control of my feelings, I would self-harm. I would bottle up my negative emotions and then try to relieve them through physical release. I was in control of how I felt at that moment. I was numb. I focused on nothing other than the pain I had inflicted upon myself.
November 8th, 2014 11:36pm
People self-harm as a way to cope with things that are going on in their lives, the action can help to relieve the emotional pain that they are feeling.
November 13th, 2014 1:40pm
It can sometimes releave presure from suicidal thoughts, tho it can be very dangerous and some people may start to rely on doing it to make them feel a sense of security.
March 21st, 2015 12:14pm
Self harm is something so big it sometimes cannot be put into words really. People self harm to release the pain..Or to forget pain with pain..or to punish themselves by harming themselves. It's all about the purpose, what's behind the person who self harm might be variety of reasons.
April 2nd, 2015 2:01am
People self harm for many different reasons. It can be something that has happened in their lives, or perhaps something that has not happened. It can be a lack of love, or friends, or it can be simply because they have no other release. There are probably so many reasons, I cannot summarize into words.
April 8th, 2015 10:20pm
Some people self harm because they feel like they deserve the pain as a sort of punishment for whatever they feel is going on. I self harmed for 6 years after my friend died because I blamed myself and felt like I deserved the pain.
April 8th, 2015 10:36pm
There is no single reason why people self-harm, as it often serves different purposes for each person. Some people use self-harm as a way to reduce anxiety, or to make negative feelings go away, and recently self-harm is being viewed as an addiction because it shares similar traits with other non-substance addictions. Self-harm is an instant relief. When someone is feeling anxious, nervous, depression, or any other myriad of feelings, engaging in self-harm makes the feelings more bearable. Self-harm is an unhealthy way to manage your emotions, also called a negative coping mechanism. If you or someone you know is harming themselves, reach out for help. Talk to a family member, friend, crisis support worker/mental health worker, or a doctor. There is help.
April 15th, 2015 12:15am
People self harm to feel some sort of relief. It is a coping mechanism, much like any other person has, except this particular coping mechanism is harmful to the person in question. For some, it is a way to express their anger at themselves. For others, it provides immediate release. Although it is different for everyone, it is usually used to cope.
April 30th, 2015 9:08pm
Self harm is looked at as a method of distracting oneself from the emotional pain they could be feeling. We need to be there for those who self harm regardless of if you know them or not.