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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
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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
May 10th, 2015 6:32pm
People who self-harm, choose to do this because when they feel a lot of emotional pain, they want to take their mind off emotional pain, so they self-harm to feel physical pain. Alternatively, if someone is a person who does not feel anything, has "numb" emotions, and isn't happy or sad at all, they self-harm to feel something, even if it is pain.
May 14th, 2015 5:23pm
They can not face their fear. They are unable to control it and let it in their mind and it continuously troubles them and follows like shadow in daily life.
May 21st, 2015 8:09am
It is a psychological condition though things can contribute such as; depression, low self-efficacy
June 7th, 2015 2:24pm
I don't think there is an individual reason reason for people to self harm, as it means different things to everyone who does it. For some, it's a release, others a coping mechanism, and for some it just becomes a habit or even an addiction. For me, growing up, I did it for all of them reasons and more. But more often than not, it was because at that moment in time, in my mind, it would help me. It would stop me panicking and calm me down. At that moment in time, I honestly believed it was all I had. Self harm is done for different reasons, but for a lot of people, they do it because they have no other way to communicate and express how they feel. A lot of people do it because when they don't have someone to talk to, they turn to what seems like a quick fix.
June 17th, 2015 2:49am
There are many reasons, while some do it because they want control over the pain they feel others genuinely dont want to be in the world anymore. The best thing to do is support them and make them feel loved and valued
June 30th, 2015 2:26am
People self harm for several reasons. They usually self harm to release emotion they can't express, because they feel numb, because they are angry, or if they want to see blood.
July 6th, 2015 8:07am
In my opinion, people start harming themselves when they think no one cares about them. So one of the ways to solve the problem is by telling them that we are always there to listen and support.
September 7th, 2015 2:49pm
The first time I physically self-harmed was at the beginning of last year, and it went on and off until the end of the year. (I've been clean for almost a year!) I can't speak for others, but in reference to cutting, I wouldn't have known about it if not for the media. It was a physical way to show how much pain I was in and how much I hated myself. Once I had finished, I looked it over and felt regret and disgust but also felt a twinge of satisfaction. Interesting, how that works. If you self-harm, please talk to someone. Anyone who is trustworthy. I found other people in a support group and we motivated each other to stop. I haven't felt a need to cut since I found my group. I encourage you to do the same.
September 22nd, 2015 5:59pm
To relieve pent up stress. it's a relief. It releases feel-good chemicals in the brain but it's short lived ad very destructive in the long term
September 30th, 2015 3:43am
People self Haem for many different reasons. Self harm is NOT a suicide attempt, and not everyone who self-harms is attention-seeking (very very very few people do it for attention. The majority of self-harmers DON'T do it for attention, and they try to hide it, not show it off). Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that I self harmed as a way to "distract" myself from the negative emotions that I was feeling. I used Physical pain to distract from the Emotional pain.
October 17th, 2015 7:10pm
People harm themselves because they have a problem that makes them mad or sad, but they aren't wanting to show their feelings. They may go cut their arm. This isn't the only reason, but it's common.
October 29th, 2015 7:29pm
There are many reasons to why people self harm, some of them include: -trying to evacuate or cope with extremely stressing situations -trying to escape their feelings -to express their pain or try to feel less numb -Trying to "control their life" There are many reasons and it can be different in every case, some people also does it to "punish themselves" for things they have done in their past.
December 14th, 2015 4:39pm
its a way to cope it might hurt but to people who do it the pain of self-harm isnt as bad as feeling the other pain.
January 4th, 2016 1:06am
People self harm because they want to feel a sort of pain. Because theres a point where when people have this feeling of "numbness" and they will do absolutely anything to feel as if they are alive.
February 8th, 2016 2:15am
They want to numb themselves from the pain they feel. There is a void in all of our lives that we can't seem to fill it satisfy because we look for it externally. We have to look on the inside to really work through the pain instead of numbing it.
February 8th, 2016 3:56am
They punish themselves due to negative emotions inside. Sometimes they do that to get attention and that's why we should give a major attention to people who do that.
April 11th, 2016 2:16am
People self harm for a variety of different reasons, just as there is a huge list of how people can harm themselves. People can harm themselves by taking drugs, gambling, self inflicted wounds or even ignoring all their friends and family to constantly be alone. There is a variety of different ways people can harm themselves, so it depends on their particular situation which we can then question 'why' they harm themselves the way they do. People who self harm feel relief, they feel calm after they inflict this certain pain on themselves, however most of the time the relief is short lived as they begin feeling the sad/angry feelings again. If you know someone who is self harming in any way, speak to them and make sure you understand their full story, then make sure they are seeking help from a professional so they can start feeling relief and peace but in a healthy, non harmful way.
April 11th, 2016 10:47pm
Well i used to self-harm because i felt useless and worthless. It is not because i wanted attention, but mostly i was tired of feeling the way i was feeling. It was my way of coping, it was unhealthy, but i didn't have an option at that time.
June 14th, 2016 6:28pm
People self harm because they feel like it will help them. They do it for attention. When someone self harms, I tell them that they are not only hurting themselves, but everyone around them.
August 8th, 2016 1:00am
Self-harming releases chemicals from the brain that generate happiness. Some people like feeling happy when they are feeling sad at that moment. Others self-harm because it makes them feel in control of their body. And others self-harm because they feel as if they deserve the pain. There are actually many more reasons why people self-harm, but these are probably the most common.
September 13th, 2016 3:50pm
There are a lot of reasons for self-harm. It can be about control, to feel something, an outward expression of inward pain, or any number of other things. Self-harm can also be addictive; it's hard to stop once you've started, and so some people may be unsure why they even self-harm at all. The reasons depend a lot on the person and how they cope with emotions.
January 16th, 2017 2:01am
People self harm because they have been strong for too long. Sometimes if you keep thoughts to yourself and never talk to anyone, you can start to want to let go of that pain. Most people self harm to let out all of those held up emotions. Other times, people self harm to punish themselves, because they feel guilty or terrible. Despite what everyone says, self harm is NOT for attention. It's serious and it's a sign that they need love and support.
May 8th, 2017 4:12am
Self-harm is most always linked to someone who has depression. People who feel bad may choose to blame themselves, and then take it out on themselves. There are many forms of self-harm, but none of them are okay. If you are self-harming or thinking about it, you need to speak to a professional and get help.
November 13th, 2017 4:46pm
For several reasons, it could be because they feel like they deserve punishment, like they want to feel something more than depression, even if it is pain, or if they need help but are too scared too ask for it directly, so they take it out on themselves...
August 14th, 2018 9:26pm
maybe the world hurt them first, so they try to hurt anything like they got hurt, and that's goes to self, they hurt themselves. Because they are their own world.
August 29th, 2018 11:34pm
There are many reasons why people self-harm but typically people self-harm as a way for them to cope with their problems. Many people who self-harm want to hurt themselves as a way of them to punish themselves.
December 7th, 2020 6:10pm
For some people, when depression and anxiety lead to a tornado of emotions, they turn to self-harm looking for a release. Self-harm and self-injury are any forms of hurting oneself on purpose. Usually, when people self-harm, they do not do so as a suicide attempt. Rather, they self-harm as a way to release painful emotions. Stigma creates shame and embarrassment, making it hard for people who self-harm to get help. So, look out for yourself and for your pals. If you suspect that someone in your life is self-harming, here are some warning signs to keep top of mind: Scars, Fresh cuts, burns, scratches, or bruises. Rubbing an area excessively to create a burn. Having sharp objects on hand. Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather. Difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Persistent questions about personal identity, Behavioral and emotional instability, impulsiveness, or unpredictability. Saying that they feel helpless, hopeless, or worthless. It's done to process their negative feelings, distract themselves from their negative feelings, feel something physical, particularly if they are feeling numb, develop a sense of control over their lives, punish themselves for things they think they’ve done wrong, express emotions that they are otherwise embarrassed to show.
January 25th, 2021 1:56pm
There are no fixed guidelines as to why individuals self-harm. It can genuinely be really different for everyone. Self-harm is correlated with particular events for certain individuals and is a means of dealing with something that is either occurring at the moment or that has occurred in the past. The causes are not obvious for some and can be harder to make sense of. You do not know, sometimes, why you hurt yourself. You are not alone, and you can always get support if you do not understand the reasons for your self-harm. Self harm may be a coping mechanism for bullying, homophobia, abuse, money worries and maybe more.