Why do people self-harm?

+18 votes
asked Apr 11, 2018 in Science by emma (770 points)
edited Apr 26, 2018
I just don’t understand why so many people cause themselves self-harm these days. I have heard of so many teenagers, especially girls, cutting themselves. I just don’t get it. My second oldest daughter tried doing this. I got her straight into counseling and still never got a straight answer as to why she had done this. Is it psychological? Is it depression? Please someone help me understand this!

4 Answers

+10 votes
answered Mar 31, 2019 by Aleksandra (1,160 points)
edited Jul 5, 2019

People of all ages self-harm. Not just teenagers. It just wasn’t as prominently talked about in past years. Some sort of stress-related problem is usually the cause. The reasons may not be understood by others because everyone takes in stress differently. When my mom is dealing with stress, she works and works and works, barely stopping to eat. Now I, on the other hand, usually slow right down and try to process what is stressing me out. I go into a form of a depressive state. Some people, though, cut or perform some other style of self-harm.

Some stress-related reasons could be:

  • Inability to handle school or work issues
  • Being bullied (this happens at all ages)
  • Worrying about being able to pay the bills or provide for family needs
  • Abuse: this can be any kind of abuse; physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
  • Grieving over the loss of a loved one
  • Problems in a relationship
  • Debilitating illnesses
  • Inability to handle, on their own, mental health issues: anger, anxiety, depression, etc.
  • Sexuality: either confusion, or knowing and feeling unable to be themselves

Other reasons people self-harm could be a way to escape problems, or to express issues:

  • Some see self-harm as a way to “poetically” express themselves, when they cannot find the words. Writing poetry generally is a way of expressing personal feelings.
  • Some people are depressed on the inside and feel a need to portray it on the outside.
  • There are some who feel no control in their lives, and find self-harm as a way of controlling “something” in their lives.
  • Some self-harm to show others that they are on the verge of a breakdown or suicide. They usually really want a way to “fix” a problem but do not know how. Sometimes cutting is a way to express suicidal tendencies without actually taking their own life.

If you need help understanding what your daughter may be going through, try the following link:


+8 votes
answered Jan 19, 2019 by Claudine (1,190 points)
edited Jul 14, 2019
I don’t cut per say but I pick at my skin until blood is drawn. When it scabs up, I pick the scab. I am 45 years old and have been doing this since I was a child. I do not do this for self-pity. I don’t want anyone to know. I pick where others cannot see it. I have never been able to deal with stress. I was taken away from my parents when I was very young. It seems very difficult for me to handle stressful and overwhelming situations. When I pick at my skin, it’s almost as if the stress disappears, like a release of sorts. I don’t know what is going on in your daughter’s life but this is why I do and have self-harmed.
+7 votes
answered Mar 31, 2019 by tawny (880 points)
edited Apr 18, 2019

I self-harmed one time. I always feel “numb” and I had heard that cutting helps a person feel. I don’t have any friends who I know do this but others in my school. It didn’t work for me. I know I shouldn’t but I like to drink and smoke pot instead. It makes me actually “feel” something.

+3 votes
answered Jun 17, 2019 by Alisha (480 points)
edited Jun 23, 2019
Why do people self-harm? I cut because I am very good at holding things in. I keep things in until I explode. Then, instead of blowing up on other people, I just release it with my blade on myself. I also write poetry but that doesn’t always work. My mom doesn’t know. I don’t think anyone knows but my bestie. Try understanding your daughter since you know. Maybe you can help her. I am all alone when it comes to my parents. I don’t think they care and I know they would never understand.
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