Non-Suicidal Self-Harm

What is non-suicidal self-harm or non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI)?

NSSI includes direct and deliberate behaviours that cause destruction to bodily tissue without the intention to die and that are inconsistent with cultural norms. It mainly shows up as cutting (about 70% of the time) but may show up as:

  • burning
  • scratching
  • hitting
  • skin carving
  • punching or hitting to create bruising
  • biting
  • pinching
  • intentionally preventing wounds from healing.

NSSI typically shows up in adolescents between 12-16 years old, adn again from 18-19 years old as an adolescent transitions to adulthood. Studies show prevalence rates of 15-47% in non-clinical adolescent populations and up to 80% in clinical adolescent populations. Prevalence rates in adults is around 6%.

There are some gender difference: females more often cut and seek help than males, who typically use self-battery and/or burning and don’t seek help as readily.

NSSI is typically used to regulate a state of consciousness where one lacks alternate coping methods.

What can you do if you or someone you know suffers with NSSI?

Seek help. A medical team including counsellors who are trained specifically to work with NSSI can be life-saving for those who suffer with this.


Nonsuicidal Self-Injury and Suicide: The Role of Life Events in Clinical and Non-Clinical Populations of Adolescents

Nonsuicidal Self-Injury: Proper Identification and Treatment