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Self-Harm and Suicidality

Key Risk Factors for Suicide​ (

  • One or more prior suicide attempts

  • Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse

  • Family history of suicide

  • Family Violence

  • Physical or sexual abuse

  • Keeping firearms in the home

  • Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain

  • Incarceration

  • Exposure to te suicidal behavior of others


Warning Signs of Suicide….

  • Always talking or thinking about death

  • Clinical depression -- deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating -- that gets worse

  • Having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights

  • Losing interest in things one used to care about

  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless

  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will

  • Saying things like "it would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"

  • Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy

Common Types of Self-Harm….



Self-harm includes anything you do to intentionally injure yourself. Some of the more common ways include:


  • cutting or severely scratching your skin

  • burning or scalding yourself

  • hitting yourself or banging your head

  • punching things or throwing your body against walls and hard objects

  • sticking objects into your skin

  • intentionally preventing wounds from healing

  • swallowing poisonous substances or inappropriate objects


Self-harm can also include less obvious ways of hurting yourself or putting yourself in danger, such as driving recklessly, binge drinking, taking too many drugs, and having unsafe sex.

Warning Signs of Self-Harm…

  • Unexplained wounds or scars from cuts, bruises, or burns, usually on the wrists, arms, thighs, or chest.

  • Blood stains on clothing, towels, or bedding; blood-soaked tissues.

  • Sharp objects or cutting instruments, such as razors, knives, needles, glass shards, or bottle caps, in the person’s belongings.

  • Frequent “accidents.” Someone who self-harms may claim to be clumsy or have many mishaps, in order to explain away injuries.

  • Covering up. A person who self-injures may insist on wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather.

  • Needing to be alone for long periods of time, especially in the bedroom or bathroom.

  • Isolation and irritability. 



Dane County Suicide Crisis Line: 608.280.2600



National Suicide Prevention Line: 

1.800.273.TALK (8255)

1.800.SUICIDE (784.2433)

For Veterans Press 1, En Espanol Oprima El 2

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