Non-Lethal Forms Of Self Destruction


Self-harm (often dubbed ‘self-abuse’, ‘self-directed violence’) involves deliberate and repeated hurting of oneself without the obvious intent of suicide. The common means by which it is achieved include but is not limited to wounding, burning, unwarranted banging, hitting any part of the body to the point of drawing blood. Research indicates that self-harm can characteristically be coupled to emotional and psychiatric afflictions. 

For ages, the awareness and understanding of non-suicidal self-harm were restrictive. Nonetheless, recent years have marked noticeably increased advancements in this field of study. With this, developing theoretical models and the effective handling of the problem have been made easier than ever. 

A Glance Into The Sitting Targets 

With our up-to-the-minute knowledge about self-directed violence, it is evident that adolescents suffer the greatest probability of non-lethal self-harming. By and large, the onset rates emerge to be identical in most of the counties. That being said, the rate of nonsuicidal self-injury seems to be particularly high in people with depression, anxiety, or non-heterosexual orientations.  Quite interestingly, men and women show signs of nearly similar or equivalent rates of self-injury.  

The Whys And The Wherefores 

Looking into a seminal publication that detailed the reasons which prompted people to self-harm, we derive that the reasons enlisted were more theoretical than empirical.  What drew attention was the chief motive behind it- to momentarily lessen the overwhelming negative emotions troubling them. Heightened negative emotions precede nonsuicidal self-injury and reports claim that most of the sufferers did it for “reduced negative emotions” and “reprieve and release.” It could also be triggered by self-directed anger or punishment. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), factors such as a history of family suicides, and exposure to alcohol or drug abuse increase the risk of self-harm exponentially.

Ways To Do It: Many Tricks By The Book But All As Distressing  

The forms of non-lethal self-harm depend largely on the inventiveness of the person doing it. Nevertheless, if reports were to be believed, people who engage in self-harming, opt for a number of ways to do it. 

  • Skin Cutting


This involves cutting or slashing the skin. Any intentional abrasion on the skin would have long-standing effects on the skin and has to be avoided at any cost. This has potentially a lot of dangers including excessive blood loss which might even prove to be self-threatening. According to the depth of your wound, it may take days, weeks, months, or even years for your wounds to heal fully. Scarring is undeniably possible.

  • Carving Words Or Symbols On The Skin

This practice of body scarification is just as unsafe. It entails cutting the skin and branding the skin. This is done either to knowingly influence wound healing for the worse or to scar yourself perpetually. The process of carving words or symbols forces relatively deep scars that take long to heal completely. This may also cause permanent trauma to the skin. Infection is surely a concern you will have to address if you are making use of unclean tools.

  • Skin Piercing 

Piercing your skin could be quite detrimental to your overall health. It may lead to serious scarring if not performed under measured circumstances. It could give way to local injuries that prove infectious. The troubles that get triggered from skin piercing might require stitches and in an awfully grave situation, hospitalisation.

  • Headbanging

Studies bear indication that this form of self-harm is performed principally by men than women. Banging your head against a wall could potentially lead to several negative incomes including grave concerns linked to traumatic brain injury. Frequent headbanging can give way to brain damage and ultimately, be a life-threatening affair. 

  • Burning or Scalding Yourself 

Self-inflicted burns as a form of non-lethal self-violence are not uncommon.  This has potentially severe repercussions including acute to serious burning (charring of skin). This form of mutilating can get out of hand rather very soon than anticipated. It may lead to deep nerve/neurological concerns if left unaddressed can be lethal.

  • Deliberately Prevent Wounds From Healing

This form of self-harm is allied with chronic self-mutilation behaviour. In a medical setting, the purposeful and conscious prevention of wounds from following the natural course of healing can prove to be disastrous.  A person can achieve this in a number of ways. This may involve but is not limited to picking on the wounds, or inflicting further pain into the surface wounds through which the time span requisite for complete recovery is extended. This may have serious consequences like infections, progress into chronic wounds, blood loss, and significant trauma and injury to the skin.  

  • Swallowing Poisonous Or Badly Chosen Objects 

To explain this in medical terms, foreign body ingestion is a frequent form of self-harm. The management protocol profoundly depends on the nature of the object swallowed, elapsed time since the intake. According to the above-mentioned factors, the gravity of the situation might vary. In most cases, it will require immediate medical inspection and assistance.  

  • Scratching

This involves scratching the surface of your skin, particularly with a sharp object (like shards of glass, nails, scissors, etc) to draw out blood. This creates abrasions on the skin which might prove to be damaging in the long run. 

Discerning The Red Flags And Course Of Action To Be Followed

Quite often that note, it’s easier to discern the red flags of someone suffering from self-harming tendencies. Is someone close to you suddenly having inexplicable frequent injuries or cuts on their skin? Do they suffer from low self-esteem and avoidance tendencies when it comes to their responsibilities or relationships? Have you spotted an acquaintance or dear friend who is unawares is slipping into depression? If your answer to any of these is a yes, do not shy away from reaching out to them. Listen without judgements and encourage them to seek professional help, if required. An evaluation or assessment will follow and a recommended course of effective treatment be taken. 

If you’re someone suffering from non-suicidal tendencies, do not hesitate to talk to a friend before it’s too late. Although it’s not the easiest of things to do, understand that it’s the best thing to do. You’re not alone in this. There’s always help waiting for you; always hope for the hopeless. You’re worth fighting for.


  1. Reading offers the opportunity to help the reader to “get out of their head” for a while, freeing them from the habitual ways of thinking that they are locked into.
    Habits are in all aspects of our lives and especially in how we think, the good news is that old habits can be replaced with new habits, but it takes effort.
    One book on the subject is “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, there are many others.

    Girish has extended his hand, and it is a welcome one.

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