Self-harm, or self-mutilation, is the act of deliberately inflicting pain and damage to your own body and can include cutting, burning, scratching, and other forms of injury.  Other forms of self-harm include consuming toxic amounts of alcohol or drugs, or participating in unsafe sex. While self-injury can look like attempted suicide, and some individuals who inflict self-harm can actually go on to attempt suicide, many people who intentionally hurt themselves are simply taking extreme measures to distract themselves from their problems and release themselves from unbearable mental anguish.

Self-harm occurs most often in teenagers and young adults between the ages of 12 and 24 and, in fact, approximately 10 per cent of American teenagers engage in various self-harming behaviours. Although girls tend to self-harm at an earlier age, such behaviour is relatively rare in early childhood.

The roots of self-harming behaviour are often found in early childhood trauma, such as physical, verbal or sexual abuse. Self-mutilation is not only a coping mechanism and a possible indication of serious mental health issue, it can also be an attempt to regain control after a particularly disturbing experience.

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