Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (i.e., NSSI) is the intentional injury of oneself without any suicidal intention. Tattooing, body and ear piercings, and other socially sanctioned body modifications are not always self-injury. Self-Injury is assumed to be more common among pre-teen and teenage females. It can be seen in males, too. Males tend to Self-Injure differently from females, and their Self-Injury is seen as accidental instead of intentional. Self-Injury is used by people of all ages, races, gender identities, and sexual orientations, The purpose of Self-Injury is usually emotion regulation. Some people who Self-Injure have some form of mental illness. Not everyone who Self-Injures has a mental illness.

My experience with NSSI started innocently when I was 8 years old. I would scratch until I bled and periodically cut my leg shaving. This produced an endorphin rush that I found comforting. This became a part of my daily life until April 2009 when, as a pedestrian, I was hit by a car. I realized that the cuts and bruises I received from that accident looked similar to the cuts I made on myself. At that point, I realized that a life without self-injury was possible and desirable. These were the inspiration for my thesis, “Culture, Biological Sex, and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury” (Berger, 2014). Through my research and working with clients, I discovered that Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) are often misunderstood and seen by others as attention-seeking or manipulation. This myth often preventions people from seeking assistance.