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Self Injurious Behaviour

What is self injurious behavior?

It is an act where you cause harm to your own body.

Why does one commit self injury?

The reasons include:

  • A sense of relief from emotional pain
  • To get away from feeling empty and numb
  • As a distraction from negative feelings
  • A cry for help and attention
  • As a threat to fulfill a wish
  • To instill guilt in another person

What are the tell-tale signs of self-injury?

Most people will try to hide it from others.

The tell-tale signs include:

  • Unexplained body injuries
    • Example: cuts; bruises; cigarettes burns
  • Locking oneself up for a long time
  • Suspicious burns or blood stains on the clothing
  • Looking depressed

How can you help?

Encourage alternative ways to deal with self-injurious urges. If one feels angry, restless and frustrated.

  • Do something physical:
    • Whack a punching bag
    • Kick a ball
    • Turn up the music aloud and dance
    • Go for a jog
    • Scream your heart out or even cry when no one is around

If one feels sad, depressed or lonely

  • Do something relaxing:
    • Take a good bath
    • Read your favorite book
    • Listen to your favorite soothing music
    • Take a walk in a park
    • Light up scented candles
  • Share your feelings with your friends

If one feels numb, detached and disconnected

  • Do activities that can create a feeling. Examples:
    • Take a cold bath
    • Squeeze an ice real hard
    • Pinch yourself
    • Bite a chili

What if no help is given?

Self injurious behavior can lead to serious complications such as:

  • Physical complications:
    • Scarring
    • Bleeding
    • Fractures
    • Suicide
  • Psychological complications:
    • Guilt feeling
    • Self hate
    • Depression
    • Anger
  • Social complications:
    • School problems
    • Relationship problems
    • Family problems

Where can you get help?

You can seek help from your:

  • Parents
  • Trusted family members
  • School counselors
  • Religious teachers


Seek professional help from:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
Last Reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Hj. Mohd Nizam bin Abd Ghani
Reviewer : Dr. Hamdan Bin Buyong@Abd. Rahman