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What is NSSI?


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), also referred to as self-injury, is defined as the deliberate damage to one’s own body tissue without suicidal intent. Another term some people use to describe this behaviour is deliberate self-harm. However, deliberate self-harm is often used to describe both NSSI and self-injurious behaviours with suicidal intent (e.g. suicide attempt).


This definition of NSSI typically excludes socially acceptable behaviours that cause tissue damage (i.e., body piercing and tattooing), behaviours which result in unintentional or gradual tissue damage (e.g. substance abuse), and self-injurious behaviours associated with developmental disabilities.


The most common method of NSSI is skin cutting, but other forms of self-injury can include skin scratching, burning, or hitting a part of the body on a hard surface. People who self-injure may use more than one method to self-injure. Sometimes the injuries are not very serious, but, at other times, people who self-injure can require medical attention, and may be admitted to hospital for the behaviour.

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