A Way to Recognize Self-Harm Triggers and Stop Self-Injury

October 17, 2017 Kristen Schou 

When you can recognize self-harm triggers, you're in a better position to manage the urge without hurting yourself. Here's how to recognize self-harm triggers.

I have been in self-harm recovery for the past 10 years, but I didn't always know how to recognize self-harm triggers. When I was a teenager, I went to therapy to help me get over my self-harm addiction. One day, my therapist asked me “Why do you think you self-harm?” Until that moment I never really thought about the reasons behind why I self-harm. I always just thought it was the way I coped with different situations in my life. We started to brainstorm some situations, people, and events that trigger my self-harm urges. It’s beneficial to recognize self-harm triggers so you can find healthier coping skills to handle your stress.

What Is a Self-Harm Trigger?

A trigger is any act or event that serves as a stimulus and initiates a reaction or series of reactions. In relation to self-harm, a trigger is anything that gives you the urge to harm yourself. It could be a situation, a person, a smell, a sight, an emotion, etc. If you know how to recognize your self-harm triggers, you can prevent the behavior.

Why People Self-Harm

There are many reasons why someone could self-harm. People may self-harm because of an environmental factor like a death in the family, divorce, going off to school, etc. These stressors can lead to anxiety which can lead to greater stress. Psychological issues can also play a factor including depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. There is not just one answer as to why someone self-harms. Everyone has different triggers that create an urge to self-harm.

Recognize Self-Harm Triggers by Documenting Relapses and Urges

One of the best ways to start figuring out your self-harm triggers is to document them in a log. After you have a relapse or when you start to feel the urge to harm yourself spend some time thinking about what just happened. Take out your self-harm log or document and write down these things:

  1. Where were you when you had this urge? Who was with you? What was being said?
  2. How were you feeling in that moment?
  3. How did you cope with the urge?

When you start logging every time you get an urge you start seeing patterns of things that trigger your self-harm urges. When you start to see these patterns you can find healthier ways to avoid and/or cope with them.

Want to learn more about self-harm coping skills? Check out Self-Talk is Crucial in Stopping Self-Harm, Self-Harm and Exercise: Get That Positive Energy Moving, and Healthy Alternatives for Self-Harmers: Books, Blogs, and the Big Screen.


APA Reference
Schou , K. (2017, October 17). A Way to Recognize Self-Harm Triggers and Stop Self-Injury, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Kristen Schou 

Find Kristen on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and her blog.

Leave a reply