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How does self-injury relate to suicide?

Although some people deliberately injure themselves (cutting, multiple piercings or tattoos are examples); this behavior, by itself, does not mean they are suicidal. However, as Dr. Thomas Joiner at Florida State University points out, these acts can raise one's tolerance for pain and self-injury. That ability to set aside the fear of being harmed - to the point of total disregard for self-preservation - is one factor those who die by suicide have in common. Combine that with a perception of 1) being a burden to others, and 2) not belonging to one's social group... and the risk for suicide is significant. And, yes, people who do self-injure are more likely to die by suicide than those who do not. His book, Why People Die by Suicide, is a great resource for more information - and is available at Amazon.com.

Self-injury does not involve a conscious intent to commit suicide, though many believe that people who harm themselves are suicidal. Self-injury (SI) is any deliberate, non suicidal behavior that inflicts physical harm on one's body to relieve emotional distress. There is no simple portrait of a person who intentionally self-injures. This behavior is not limited by gender, race, education, age, sexual orientation, socio-economics, or religion.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.