Self Injury, Self Harm Statistics and Facts

Latest self injury statistics and self harm facts. Learn why self mutilation statistics may not be entirely accurate.

Self-injury statistics show that this disturbing phenomenon is a real and present danger to vulnerable people worldwide, especially in developed countries, such as the U.S. and those in western Europe. Frequently, untreated depression and other mental health challenges create an environment of despair that leads people to cope with these challenges in unhealthy ways. Check out these self-mutilation statistics:

  • Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self-injury
  • 90 percent of people who engage in self-harm begin during their teen or pre-adolescent years
  • Nearly 50 percent of those who engage in self-injury activities have been sexually abused
  • Females comprise 60 percent of those who engage in self-injurious behavior
  • About 50 percent of those who engage in self-mutilation begin around age 14 and carry on into their 20s
  • Many of those who self injure report learning how to do so from friends or pro self-injury websites
  • Approximately two million cases are reported annually in the U.S.

While these self-harm statistics are from reliable sources, truly accurate information about rates and trends of self-mutilation are difficult to come by because the majority of participants conceal their activities. Their behavior may never come to the attention of medical professionals or other social services.

Self Injury Facts – What You Should Know

Knowing the self-injury facts can help you better understand the underlying origins of this behavior and the techniques of self-harm. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM IV-TR) lists self-injurious behavior as a symptom of borderline personality disorder, but recent research indicates that it also occurs with other mental health disorders, including:

The phenomenon has become more visible in society in recent years. Recent data and self-injury statistics show the following behaviors are common among people who engage in self-harm:

  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Interfering with wound healing (picking or reopening wounds)
  • Punching or hitting oneself or other objects
  • Inserting objects into the skin
  • Purposely bruising or breaking one's bones
  • Certain forms of hair pulling

Experts term these behaviors as non-suicidal self-injury, but suicide also qualifies as a form of self-harm – one that is, of course, devastating to those left behind.

Self Mutilation Facts – Responding to Self Injurious People

There are so many myths about self-injury, that's why it's important to know about self-mutilation facts when responding to people who engage in this type of behavior. People self injure to cope with internal emotions, stop bad feelings, relieve emotional numbness, punish themselves, obtain a sense of belonging, get attention, and many other reasons. Read through these guidelines about approaching someone who engages in self-injury:

  • Remain calm and caring
  • Accept him or her even if you disagree with the behavior
  • Know that this represents a way of dealing with emotional pain
  • Listen with compassion
  • Avoid panic and overreaction
  • Do not show shock or revulsion at what they've done
  • Do not use threats in an attempt to stop the behavior
  • Do not allow him or her to recount the self-injury experience in detail as it may trigger another session
  • Do get appropriate help for him or her from a qualified mental health professional

The best way to help is to stay informed about self-injury statistics and facts. The more you know about the causes of self-injury, motivations, and appropriate responses, the more effective you'll be when dealing with someone who engages in this activity.

article references

APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2021, December 24). Self Injury, Self Harm Statistics and Facts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: March 25, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

More Info