Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) was an international epidemic prior to COVID and it has only continued to be as we start to transition back to our new norm. While NSSI is closely correlated with suicidal ideation and attempts, it is not a suicide attempt. It is imperative that a professional not make any assumptions about cuts or burns on a client’s wrists, neck, or other vulnerable areas, but rather ask them what the intent was behind the wound. Statistically speaking, Vann and other researchers have found that there is at least a 60% correlation in that at least that percentage of those who participate in NSSI have SI or have attempted.

While many will point to social media as the main culprit behind the increase in behavior, there are actually many factors in addition to the influence of the various media platforms. NSSI has been around for over millennia, long before technology. Vann has documented over 30 reasons why someone may decide to intentionally harm themselves. Each time someone harms, it could be for a different reason or even multiple reasons. While it is important to understand the reasons, it is also just as important to separate fact from fiction regarding this behavior. One myth or misunderstanding of a reason why someone may harm is that they have Borderline Personality Disorder. Unfortunately, one of the times that self-injury is mentioned in the previous DSMs was when it was a symptom of BPD. It is critical for client care that professionals understand and respond therapeutically to this client’s needs.

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Lori Vann, MA LPC-S
Lori Vann, MA LPC-S