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Mental Health Resources: Self Harm


The following guide is for informational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or give medical advice.

Trigger Warning: This guide provides sensitive information that some people may find disturbing. Proceed with caution and note the Resources for Help at the bottom of this page.

What is Self Harm?

Self-harm or self-injury means hurting yourself on purpose. It is also known as Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI).

Hurting yourself—or thinking about hurting yourself—is a sign of emotional distress. Self-harm is not a mental illness, but a behavior that indicates a need for better coping skills. Several illnesses are associated with it, including borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, or post traumatic distress disorder (PTSD).


The urge to hurt yourself may start with overwhelming anger, frustration or pain. When a person is not sure how to deal with emotions, or learned as a child to hide emotions, self-harm may feel like a release. Sometimes, injuring yourself stimulates the body’s endorphins or pain-killing hormones, thus raising their mood. Or if a person doesn’t feel many emotions, they might cause themself pain in order to feel something “real” to replace emotional numbness.

Once a person injures themself, they may experience shame and guilt. If the shame leads to intense negative feelings, that person may hurt themself again. The behavior can thus become a dangerous cycle and a long-time habit. Some people even create rituals around it. If someone is hurting themself, they may be at an increased risk of feeling suicidal.


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Who Self Harms?

In a study across 40 countries, it was found:

  • About 17% of all people will self-harm during their lifetime
  • The average age of the first incident of self-harm is 13
  • 45% of people use cutting as their method of self-injury
  • About 50% of people seek help for their self-harm but only from friends instead of professionals

While people of all ages can self harm, there is a higher occurrence among young people:

  • Adults. Aside from very young children, adults are the least likely group of people to follow through with self-injury. Only about 5% of adults have self-injured in their lifetime.
  • Teens. Adolescents have the highest rate of self-injurious behaviors, with about 17% admitting to self-injury at least once in their life.
  • College Students. Studies find that about 15% of college students report engaging in self-harm.
  • Women vs. Men. While women are more likely to self-harm, males may represent at least 35% of total self-injury cases. Men are more likely to underreport self-injury and have other people hurt them than women.
  • Sexual Minorities. Gay and bisexual people are at a high risk of self-injury. Nearly half of all bisexual females engage in self-injury.

One study found that of people who self-injure:

  • 20% have personality disorders
  • 13.5% have adjustment disorders
  • 11% have mood disorders, like depression or bipolar disorder
  • 55% have an eating disorder
  • 50-75% of individuals who have engaged in self-harm report having attempted suicide at least once

There is hope. Self harm does not have to be lifelong:

  • More than half (54%) of adolescents who self-harm say they only do it once or a few times
  • About 50% of adolescents who self-harm stop within five years of starting

(The Recovery Village,; Gitnux,

Getting Help

You may want to get help for any mental health issue if it lasts for a long period of time or begins to interfere with your ability to function, such as eat, study, and have fun. TU has counselors who would love to help you with your mental health.

This site provides information about and contact information for TU's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

If you are having a mental health crisis, the following sites provide help:


Call or text 988 - Oklahoma's statewide mental health lifeline