What are the impacts of self-injury?

Self-injury can have varied short- and long-term impacts on individuals, as well as their friends, partners, and families.

Short-term

In the short-term, many people report that they feel a sense of calm or relief right after they self-injure. However, some people also feel guilty or ashamed and may worry that others will judge them if they found out. Understandably, this, can contribute to feelings of anxiety, shame, and isolation. Furthermore, such feelings can make it hard to reach out for help.

In addition to the emotional impacts, physical impacts include injury to the body that may are may not need medical intervention. Some methods of self-injury carry more risk than others when it comes to injuring more severely than intended. Proper wound care is essential to ensure that injuries do not become infected or cause death.

Long-term

Over the long-term, people who engage in self-injury may report worsening depression or anxiety, physical consequences such as scarring, and difficulties in their close relationships.

Parents and caregivers, teachers, and mental health professionals often feel frightened or confused when they find out a young person is engaging in self-injury. Although self-injury is often associated with emotional and social strain, some studies show that the process of addressing, and healing from, self-injury can bring some relationships closer and enhance self-understanding, especially when the person feels well-supported.