Self-Harm Signs: Possible Ways to Recognize Them

June 21, 2013 Jennifer Aline Graham

There are not always obvious signs of self-harm. Many people are quiet about it – which is understandable since it is a personal addiction. Because there is not a “Self-Harmers Table” in the cafeteria or a “Self-Harmers Staff Room” at work, it tends to be tough to recognize who is doing what.

However, sometimes it is too obvious to ignore.

When I used to cut, I hid my marks behind leather bracelets and watches. I’d put foundation on my scars and fresh wounds and made sure I had some with me at all times. I did everything in my power to make it so I looked like the typical, happy teenager.

Inside, I was screaming.

So, How Can You Catch Self-Harm Signs?

As a self-harmer, you may find yourself staring at everyone else’s arms and searching for scars or cuts or burns. Lately, I’ve caught myself checking out people’s arms and actually have seen some interesting marks that made me wonder what they were from. However, just by looking doesn’t mean the person’s scars are from self-harm.

Those who self-injure are usually going through a difficult situation. This could be family issues, grades and school or a mental illness that is just being recognized. I’ve noticed that those who self-harm typically begin to push away those they care about because their self-injury has become such a focus for them that they’ve stopped caring about other things. However, it could also be the opposite. They could become overwhelmingly attached in hopes that friendships improve their emotions.

Like I said, it’s tough at times to recognize signs for self-harm. I mentioned my constantly wearing bracelets to cover my marks. This is an extremely popular trend in the self-harming population. If someone begins to wear many bracelets out of the blue and they’ve been acting a little off, self-harm could be a possibility. Also, those who self-harm often wear long sleeves to cover their arms, if that is where the self-injury is. If someone who has always worn a bikini stops randomly and begins creating interesting stories about why, they could be harming their stomach or thighs.

However, all of this is relative and depends on the individual’s situation.

Do Not Jump to Conclusions

If you start obsessing about these signs to a friend or family member you believe to be self-harming, it could scare them away and make them distance themselves from you. You want that trust to remain there because once that trust is gone, it is tough to get back.

If these signs do arise, keep note of them. If this person does start acting odd and doing things like wearing different clothes or making up stories about noticeable marks, stay positive and re-direct them. Make them feel wanted and comfortable in their own skin, because right then, they don’t feel that way. If you notice these marks getting worse and worse and they are still trying to cover them up, talk to that person or someone who could help them. That individual may get angry with you, but in the end – it’ll help.

And help is key.

APA Reference
Aline, J. (2013, June 21). Self-Harm Signs: Possible Ways to Recognize Them, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

Zainab Ghazanfar
July, 15 2014 at 6:51 am

very nicely expressed. Easy to understand.

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