Why Do You Self Injure? Is Self Injury Really The Right Solution?

This article is intended to be thought provoking and maybe a little challenging.

These are difficult questions to answer for some people, easier to answer for others - but I think they are relevant questions for everyone who self injures. There's a short self help exercise to follow through this discussion (after all, it's no use talking about baking a cake unless you provide the recipe to do it).

Why do you self injure?

People often self injure to cope with overwhelming and unhappy feelings - sadness, anger, stress, depression, loneliness etc. Sometimes these feelings are caused by mental illness and sometimes by external factors such as stress at school or work, family or friendship problems, for example.

  • Take a moment to list the reasons why you self injure. Do this mentally, on a piece of paper, or even in a topic on the HelpingTeens Support Groups if you're comfortable.

Is self injury really the solution?

SI is only one of many coping solutions. Sometimes it is a comforting and reassuring outlet because it seems to work every time to provide relief - but in actual fact it only provides short term relief - it is rarely a true solution to your feelings, as it doesn't deal with the root cause(s) and so the problems are still there.

Look at your list of reasons for SIing and see if there are ways you can resolve them. Examples (both short and long term) for solutions could be talking to friends and family in order to resolve relationship problems, seeing a therapist to help you recover from depression, asking a teacher to advise you about coping with the stress of school, etc. (Posting or Chatting at HT to ask for help finding solutions also counts!)

Sometimes finding (or using) a solution for the reason(s) you SI isn't always appropriate. There isn't always a readily available or 'physical solution' (such as the ones I listed above) to the way you feel, or the emotional resources might not be there to put them in place. You might feel how you do for no obvious reason, or for a reason that can't immediately be solved (ie depression, PMS, or simply a 'bad day'). In those cases you could use alternatives for SI, rather than solutions. Alternatives might be taking a bath or a walk, having a nap, calling a friend, snuggling on the sofa with a blanket and a book, magazine, TV, etc.

  • Now take a moment to list any solutions to the reasons you SI, and/or any alternatives to SI. Also think of ways to put those things into practice (if applicable).

It's useful to expand and develop your coping skills when in need. The list of solutions and alternatives can be used instead of SI when you next feel the urge.