Each year 1 in 5 females self-harm. (Gluck, Samantha. “Self Injury, Self Harm Statistics and Facts.” Healthy Place. 2013.)

More than 50 percent of young women who self-harm have been sexually abused. (NIH 2010)

Self-harm has become a rampant epidemic that is affecting many young people today. The act of self-harm, sometimes referred to as self-injuring or cutting, is a deliberate, repetitive, impulsive harming of the body. It is usually done in secret and is often hard to detect.


People self-harm for various reasons – expression of pain and hurt deep within, self- punishment, or the need to feel something physical after having experienced emotional numbing.

Possible signs and symptoms of self-harm behavior:

  • Inflicting cuts with any type of sharp object, usually on an area of the body not normally exposed
  • Carving words into one’s body
  • Constant scratching as a response to pressure or unexpected circumstances
  • Picking at scabs and preventing the healing process from taking place
  • Burning the skin on a regular basis with erasers, fire, or small heat-conducting appliances or metals
  • Punching the body – including beating the head against walls or other inanimate objects
  • Biting the inside of the mouth or skin of the arms, hands, or legs
  • Pulling out hair, including eyelashes and eyebrows
  • Breaking bones or severely bruising the body

Possible indicators someone may be struggling with self-harm:

  • a preference for wearing concealing clothing at all times (e.g. long sleeves in hot weather)
  • an avoidance of situations where more revealing clothing might be expected (e.g. unexplained refusal to go to a party)
  • unusually frequent complaints of accidental injury (e.g. a cat owner who frequently has scratches on their arms)

If you or someone you know is committing self-harm, Mercy can help. Our program is completely free to the girls we serve. Call 615-831-6987 for more details, or click here to learn more.

Download the FREE ebook Mercy for Self-Harm