Causes of self-harm

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There is no one single cause which explains why people self-harm.

People talking and a negative symbol

Showing other people that the self-harmer feels bad.

Person in front of a punching bag

Relieving feelings of anger, anxiety or frustration.

Positive sign

Look for a feeling of pleasure. 

Other reasons may be:

Person, shout, exclamation

Calls for attention.

Question mark in a triangle warning of lack of evidence

Exploratory game.

Person with social media icons

Imitation of the social group.

Person who ingests pills with the intention of committing suicide

Associated with suicidal behaviors.

Sad person in whom the heart stands out

Fill a feeling of emptiness within the development of a borderline personality disorder.

Two different sides of the face representing behavioural disturbances or mood swings

Other mental disorders. In certain contexts such as eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, delusions of infestation or believing, in an unfounded way, that you have a serious illness (hypochondriasis), among others.

Self-harm risk factors

Self-harming occurs most frequently among:
Symbol of female sexuality


Teenager girl and boy


Rainbow and LGTBIQ+ flag

LGBTIQ + communities (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, intersexers, queer and any other type of sexual orientation or gender identity).

Three sad people and one with a cut

People with friends or family members who self-harm.

Little girl with her hands covering her face and crying

People who were abused as children.

Person smoking next to another person

People who consume alcohol or drugs.

Two different sides of the face representing behavioural disturbances or mood swings

People with psychiatric disorders such as borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Información general de Mental Health in Children and Adolescents

Consulta toda la información relacionada con Mental Health in Children and Adolescents

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Substantiated information by:

Iria Méndez

Published: 30 October 2019
Updated: 30 October 2019


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