Self harm defined

Self harm is the act of deliberately destroying body tissue, or intentionally injuring one’s body as a means of coping or in order to express emotional distress. It is usually not a result of suicidal intention.

Adolescents who have difficulty talking about their emotions may show their emotional issues, physical discomfort, pain and low self-esteem with self-harm. Although some teenagers may feel like the steam in the pressure cooker has been released following the act of self harm, others may feel anger, fear, sadness, or hate. The effects of peer pressure  can also influence adolescents to injure themselves.

Self harm usually takes the form of intentional cutting, carving or puncturing of the skin. It can also be burning, ripping or pulling of skin or hair, and self bruising.  Self harm is oftentimes used by adolescents as a means of emotional release. Because self harm is often an impulsive act, becoming upset can act as a trigger to self harm.

Solstice East and self harm

self harmSolstice East provides adolescent girls with the tools to prevent further self harm. Solstice East utilizes therapeutic techniques that take a  holistic approach to helping young women get on a path towards healing. Solstice East takes a big picture approach rather than one specific “problem area”- like self harm or depression. Instead, Solstice East heals the entire student.

Solstice East offers its students cutting edge academics, psychiatric services, equine therapy and a supportive, caring staff. The therapeutic program at Solstice East works with young girls who display behaviors such as self harm by emphasizing the importance of developing healthy relationships, principle driven internal motivations, and the experiential learning process.


A longitudinal Australian study  took a random sample of 1,943 adolescents between 1992 and 2008 and found that 8 percent reported self harm. More girls (10%) than boys (6%) reported self harm. During adolescence, self harm was associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety, antisocial behavior, high risk alcohol use, marijuana use, and cigarette smoking.

A 2014 study concluded, after compiling data from 4799 respondents who completed a detailed self harm questionnaire at age 16 years, that participants who displayed behaviors associated with self harm with and without suicidal intent were at increased risk of developing mental health problems, future self harm, and substance abuse issues.

Contemporary articles

An article in Harvard Magazine discusses the work of Matthew Nock, professor of psychology at Harvard University. Nock’s work is driven by his desire to unravel the mysteries of suicide and self harm. He looks at factors, like culture, age and gender, that affect risk of suicide and self harm, and asks why certain groups are especially vulnerable. His goal is to improve the existing treatments for suicidal and thoughts related to self harm, and to bring known treatments to a larger population of patients.

Self harm defined by…




Wikimedia Commons

Your Little Professor

Family Help and Wellness


The natural history of self-harm from adolescence to young adulthood: a population-based cohort study

Clinical and social outcomes of adolescent self harm: population based birth cohort study