Self-harm is an indicator for mental health treatment and intervention because it is frequently the result of an inability to control intense emotions. It is important to acknowledge that it is a complicated problem, and to address the underlying emotional turmoil in order to promote better coping mechanisms and emotional wellbeing. For those who self-harm, getting professional assistance is essential. Understanding a wide range of indicators is essential for recognizing and treating self-harming behaviors and advancing all-encompassing mental health care.

Self-harm encompasses behavioural, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms in addition to physical indications like burning or cutting.

Behavioural symptoms

  • Isolation,
  • Keeping sharp objects in storage,
  • Giving up once-enjoyed activities
  • Physical signs
  • Fractures that don’t seem to be related to the injury

Physical Symptoms

  • Cuts
  • Scratches
  • Burn marks

Cognitive symptoms

  • Identity crisis
  • Hopelessness
  • Powerlessness

Non-suicidal self injury (NSSI)

Self-harm done to sabotage oneself or hurt oneself physically but not with an intent to die by suicide is known as Non-suicidal self injury. It is most commonly seen in situations where one is trying to elicit an interpersonal response from someone when they have tried communicating or expressing themselves several times or occasions but have failed. Often individuals feeling stuck or feeling helpless in situations can attempt indulging into NSSI.

If you think a friend or relative is self-harming, look out for signs, including:
  • Bruises, cigarette burns, cuts (unexplained) usually on the wrists, forearm, thighs or chest
  • Keeping themselves fully covered at all times, even in hot weather
  • Overuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Overdose of prescribed or over the counter medications
  • Self-loathing and expressing a wish to punish themselves
  • Wishing to end it all, passive wishes of dying
  • Becoming very withdrawn and not speaking to others
  • Changes in eating habits or being secretive about eating
  • Unusual weight loss or weight gain
  • Signs of low self-esteem, such as blaming themselves for any problems or thinking they’re not good enough
  • Signs of depression, such as low mood, crying or a lack of motivation or interest in anything
  • Pulling or plucking hair, eyebrows or skin picking

How can a psychologist help in self harm/ suicide tendencies?

In order to address self-harm and suicide, psychologists must perform in-depth assessments, clinical evaluation to identify underlying problems, address their emotional concerns, and create individualized intervention plans. They offer coping mechanisms, resilience building, and counselling to help people navigate emotional distress. Psychologists work in tandem with other mental health specialists to create a supportive atmosphere that helps people overcome obstacles and lowers the likelihood of self-harm or suicide.

How can a psychiatrist help in self harm/ suicide tendencies?

Psychiatrists play a critical role in diagnosing and treating underlying mental health conditions by performing thorough psychiatric assessments in order to address self-harm and suicidal tendencies. In order to reduce symptoms, they take medication, which primarily addresses emotional issues and depressive traits. Psychiatrists work in collaboration with psychologist to address the emotional components of self-harm and develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce suicide risks and advance mental health in general. Consistent monitoring guarantees that the treatment plan is working.