Self-injury can cause a variety of complications, including:

  • Worsening feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem
  • Infection, either from wounds or from sharing tools
  • Life-threatening problems, such as blood loss if major blood vessels or arteries are cut
  • Permanent scars or disfigurement
  • Severe, possibly fatal injury, especially if you harm yourself while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Worsening of underlying issues and disorders, if not adequately treated

Suicide risk

Although self-injury is not usually a suicide attempt, it can increase the risk of suicide because of the emotional problems that trigger self-injuring. And the pattern of damaging the body in times of distress can make suicide more likely.

If you, your friend or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts or is in emotional distress, get help right away. Take all talk of suicide seriously. Here are some options:

  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.
  • Seek help from your doctor, a mental health provider or other health care professional.
  • Reach out to family members, friends, teachers or spiritual leaders for support.

If you think your friend or loved one is in immediate danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with him or her. Call for emergency help or take the person to the hospital, if you can safely do so. If possible, take away any tools used for self-injury.

Dec. 06, 2012