March 1st was Self-Injury Awareness Day.
More people harm themselves than you might think. It is a form of self-expression as a way of coping with negative internal feelings. There are various levels of self harm. Many daily activities can become forms of self harm. Cutting is the most widely recognized form of self-harm but there are many types of it - burning skin, not letting a wound heal by continually picking off the scab, eating disorders, banging the head against a wall and many many more. Women tend to self harm more then men because women tend to turn anger inward. But also, cutting has become popular in recent years. More teens are testing out cutting the way others might try drugs or smoking cigarettes which means more people are exposed to it.
Self harm and cutting can be extrememly dangerous for many reasons. Physically, infection and cutting "too deep" could be serious problems that require medical attention. Emotionally, it is important to learn to deal with feelings as they arise directly rather than bottling them and then expressing via hurting yourself.
I am not an expert on self-harm but I have worked with and continue to work with people who use this as a coping method. Each person has a unique perspective on why they cut and what it seems to help with. My goal when one presents with self harm as part of their symptoms is to understand their internal world - the messages they tell themselves and the lessons they have learned and the patterns around why they harm themsevles. If the cutting/harm is serious, I strongly encourage medical attention. Otherwise, the focus of the therapy is on the issues underneath the harming.
Here are a couple of extensive websites with loads of information for those that harm themselves.
self-injury.net is run by a 28 y.o. woman that has cut and considers herself "in recovery".
National Self Harm Network a charity service out of the UK that provides information, support, advice and advocacy