Self-harm can affect anyone in your life, from family members to friends and acquaintances. Age, social class, and gender do not matter when it comes to self-harm. It can be crucial to know how to help someone who self-harms in order to potentially save their life. Mental health concern can be a precursor to someone using self-harm as a way to cope, making it vital to have mental health treatment in order to stop or prevent self-harm. However, mental health issues are not the only cause of self-harm. 

Understanding self-harm, the reasons people turn to it, and how you can help those who struggle with it can be beneficial to the loved one that harms themself recovering from it. 

What is Self-Harm?

Self-harm is the act of hurting yourself intentionally. The most commonly discussed form of self-harm is cutting with sharp objects to inflict physical pain. However, there are many forms of self-harm. Any purposeful act to cause injury or harm to oneself is classified as self-harm. Burning, cutting, hitting, or even pinching yourself can be viewed as forms of self-harm. 

People usually turn to this form of pain in order to cope, or deal with, emotional pain or distress. Typically, these acts are not an attempt at suicide, they are a way to not feel whatever emotional pain someone is going through. 

Reasons for Self-Harm

There is no real easy, clear cut reason that can be stated as to why people self-harm. Self-harm is not classified as a mental illness, rather it is a behavior indicating the need for healthier coping skills that can help to end the behaviors. However, causing self-inflicted injuries can be a warning sign for some underlying mental health concerns such as depression, borderline personality disorder, or anxiety. Addressing these disorders can help to end the behaviors associated with self-harm. 


Intrapersonal reasons refer to things centered within the person who self-harms. Negative thoughts and feelings about self can lead to self-inflicted injury. A person can also feel like they are punishing themself for whatever reason they feel is necessary by acting out on these behaviors. 


This form of self-harm is more outwardly focused. This can mean the person is seeking some form of attention, or support from those around them. It can be viewed as a sign of distress. It is important to know how to help someone who self-harms for this kind of attention.

Warning Signs of Self-Harm

Being that self-harm can be hard to identify, knowing the warning signs of it can help loved ones know how to help someone who self-harms. About 5% of people harm themselves, and more often it is women who turn to this behavior. Although it can occur to anyone at any time and any age, it is most commonly seen during the teenage years. Understanding common warning signs can help loved ones begin to seek out ways to help someone who self-harms. Some warning signs to look out for are:

  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Being impulsive
  • Commonly and inexplicably hurting themselves with excuses for the injuries
  • Hiding these injuries from loved ones
  • Scars, usually in a cluster or pattern
  • Low self esteem
  • Negative self talk or talk of feeling helpless or hopeless 

Self-Harm and Suicide

The act of self-inflicted injury isn’t always a suicide attempt. Oftentimes, it can be a way to avoid suicide attempts. However, self-harm tendencies can also lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. This is why it is vital to understand how to help someone who self-harms. These behaviors can be a precursor to more serious behaviors and acts of harming oneself. The emotional instabilities that lead to self-harm can often eventually lead to serious suicide attempts.

What Can You Do?

If you are concerned that a loved one is engaging in behaviors that can be considered self-harm, or if they have admitted to engaging in self-harm, there are ways that you can help. One of the most important things you can do is be supportive, and not judgmental. Avoiding judgment can help the person to feel safe. Also, avoid asking them to promise not to harm themselves again. This can cause a deeper feeling of distress in them and worsen the behaviors. Finally, encouraging them to seek help can be the best way you can help someone who self-harms. Addressing the underlying problems with professionals can lead to better results than just dealing with it alone can.

Help for Self-Harm in Knoxville, TN

Self-harm can be highly detrimental to the person using these behaviors to cope with different life problems. However, it can lead to more dangerous actions in the future. If you or a loved one are struggling with self-harm, reach out to the professionals at Discovery Place, and our staff can help guide you to a healthier and positive coping mechanism to help end these dangerous behaviors. Contact us today!


  • Discovery Place was the answer for my son. He did the 90 day and then the step down program and sober living. We give this organization 10 stars. They met my son where he was …emotionally, mentally, physically. They helped him put his life back on track. Discovery Place employees care about their guests. If your son, brother, nephew, grandson or husband needs excellent supportive care THIS is indeed the facility.

    Kim Morton
    Alumni Parent
  • I have remained sober and it is because of DP. DP is the best place there is, hands down. I keep everyone there in my prayers, and I encourage everyone there to take what they are practicing and do it in their lives, after.

    Roy Mantelli
  • Over the past year, I’ve been putting into actin what Discovery Place taught me, and I have experienced a complete perspective change of the world, and the people in it. I get to be a man of service and love today, and for that I am grateful to Discovery Place.

    Matt Kassay
  • Discovery Place means the world to me. They showed me the tools that I’ve tried to use everyday in my life to think less often of myself, and more frequently of others. I am learning to lend a hand when I am able and to have a honest and humble relationship with God and the people around me. Not only am I clean and sober, but also I am happy and fulfilled.

    Tommy Parker
  • Discovery Place and the men who work there made recovery attractive, and more importantly, fun. There is strength in the struggle. I am forever grateful for my time at Discovery Place.

    Creed McClellan
  • When I got to Discovery Place my whole life was in shambles, but I didn’t know it. I spent 6 months in their programs, participating in all three phases, and was met with kindness and love all along the way. It is unbelievable to me, where I am now relative to where I was when I arrived at DP.

    Lance Duke
  • I can never say enough good things about Discovery Place and the people who work there. Before checking in to DP, I was out of options and out of answers. Fortunately, Discovery Place has a solution. Taking suggestions from the staff at DP saved my life, and as a result, I’m now more content and hopeful about life. I’m grateful for Discovery Place showing me how to live a healthy life so that I can become a better man and help the next guy.”

    Tyler Buckingham

    Thinking About Rehab?

    Learn More About Our Alternative Residential Recovery Programs

      Alternative Drug & Alcohol Treatment Rehab
    • Admissions
    • About Us
    • Contact
    • Talk to someone about your options

      Talk to someone about your options

      Blue Pig Media