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Recognizing the Warning Signs of Self-Harm 

Signs of Self-Harm

Just like physical health, mental health is fundamental to how we navigate daily life. It influences how we think, feel and act. Simply being there, listening actively, and offering non-judgmental space can make a world of difference to someone who is struggling with mental health. But if you’re concerned someone you care about is harming themselves or thinking about acting on their negative feelings, it’s crucial to be aware of the following signs of self-harm. 

Physical Signs: 

  • Scars or wounds: This includes unexplained cuts, usually on easily concealed areas like wrists, arms, thighs or chest. Notice patterns or fresh cuts, bruises, burns, or bite marks. 
  • Clothing choices: Wearing long sleeves or pants, despite warm weather, could be an attempt to hide injuries. 
  • Changes in appearance: Being unwilling to change clothes in front of others, or signs of hair pulling. 

Behavioral Signs: 

  • Social withdrawal: Isolating themselves, spending excessive time alone, or losing interest in once-enjoyed activities. 
  • Expressing emotional distress: Talking about feeling hopeless, worthless, or overwhelmed by negative emotions. 
  • Changes in habits: Sudden shifts in eating patterns (overeating or undereating), or exercising excessively. 
  • Secrecy: Being secretive about their belongings, particularly regarding objects that could be used for self-harm. 
  • Frequent “accidents”: Repeated explanations of injuries as accidental. 

Remember, these signs alone may not definitively indicate self-harm. However, their presence, especially in combination, warrants concern and a conversation with your loved one. 

Here’s what you can do: 

  • Express your concern: Let your loved one know you care about them and have noticed changes that worry you. 
  • Listen openly and non-judgmentally: Create a safe space for them to share their feelings without fear of blame. 
  • Avoid pressuring them: Don’t pry or force them to talk. Let them know you’re available to listen whenever they’re ready. 
  • Encourage professional help: Gently guide them toward seeking professional support from a mental health expert. 

The mental health providers and staff at Connections Wellness Group are here to help you and your loved one navigate feelings and thoughts related to self-harm, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and more. In our intensive outpatient programs, we use evidence-based methods, coupled with the support of group therapy, to help during your time of need. 


Connections Wellness Group has outpatient mental health treatment locations near Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, as well as Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.

Call us today:

Tennessee: 888.966.6986

Texas: 940.360.4245

If you suspect your loved one may be harming themselves, contact the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline by calling 9-8-8 or, in an emergency, call 9-1-1.