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NONSUICIDAL SELF-INJURY (NSSI)
What is nonsuicidal self-injury?
When people harm themselves without wanting to die, these behaviors are called “nonsuicidal self-injury”, or NSSI. Common examples include cutting, burning, or hitting oneself. NSSI is common, especially among adolescents and young adults, even those without any diagnosable psychiatric conditions.
Why would someone harm themselves if they don’t want to die?
Not everyone who harms themselves does so because they want to commit suicide. Also, not everyone who harms themselves does so as a cry for help or attention.
What are other reasons might someone harm themselves?
- To punish themselves
- To generate feelings (to reduce numbness)
- Most commonly, people hurt themselves on purpose to reduce negative emotions. This possibly occurs through distraction by pain, which has universal mood benefits.
- Example: If you are feeling badly and stub your toe, you will feel worse while in pain, but after the pain goes away, you’ll generally feel better than you did before you stubbed your toe.
What is so bad about NSSI? If they don’t want to die, is it really fatal?
It can be – people can accidentally seriously harm themselves even when that is not their intent or goal. Also, NSSI is a risk factor for future suicidal behavior, even though it occurs without suicidal intent.