Some people mistake evidence of cuts, burns, or needle punctures on someone’s arm, leg or other body parts as an indication of suicide attempt. While there is some truth to connecting cut marks with a sign of suicide hesitation or acting out, experts who study post-traumatic stress (PTSD) victims believe these cuts and marks are not attempts to end their lives, but are actually cries that they want to live.

Proof of Existence

Self-injury is a way for PTSD sufferers, who are locked in a world of numbing emotions or emotional amnesia, disconnected from the real world, to say they are real and alive. The pain they inflict upon themselves is an attempt to prove they actually exist outside of their bigger pain.

Self-injury is their way of distracting themselves away from constant thoughts of terrible trauma and horrific memories, flashbacks and nightmares. For a person who feels powerless because the live in a world they cannot control, intentional self-injury gives them a feeling that they are in control of one part of their life.

Release of Endorphins

For a person who lives with constant depression, self-injury is a form of unconscious (subconscious) self-medication, causing the sudden release of endorphins – the body’s feel-good morphine-like chemicals. These proteins can temporarily lift the spirits of a depressed person as well as reduce tension and anxiety.

Asking for Help

For someone struggling with memories of childhood sexual abuse, self-injury is a way of punishing the guilty party. In their mind, they are inflicting pain on that person. Others attempt to bring their silent pain to the surface for others to see because they don’t have the courage to talk about their abuse, and thus self-injury is a way of asking for help.

Self-injury is also used as a method to disfigure the body in an attempt to make themselves unattractive and less desirable to their abuser and therefore they will be left alone.

Still other abuse victims seek the love they did not receive when they were young. They injure themslves as a way to provide themselves with love and nurturing by playing nurse to themselves.

Pain on Pain

Often, self-inury is an instant way of disconnecting from the mental pain they are experiencing. The pain from cutting or burning themselves is a form of relief, a distraction from painful memories. It’s their way of dealing with great pain by inflicting a smaller immediate pain upon themselves.

Self-pain or self-mutiliation is more likely to be observed in abused females who suffered prolonged childhood physical or sexual abuse or severe neglect. In addition, they may have eating, sleeping, alcohol or drug problems.

Self-injury is an unfortunate side effect of PTSD or depression. It is a very temporary solution to a much deeper problem. It only adds more shame, guilt and self-blame. It hides the evidence from people who care and can provide help.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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