Differentiating between NSSI and suicidal behaviour


The relationship between NSSI and suicidal behaviour is complex. Although NSSI is distinct from suicidal behaviour, NSSI is a risk factor for later suicidal thoughts and behaviour. People who self-injure are nearly three times more likely to consider or attempt suicide than those with no history of NSSI.


Despite the association between NSSI and suicide, there are important distinctions between the two behaviours, which are important to acknowledge when helping someone who self-injures.  People who self-injure are not usually trying to end their lives. Indeed, people may self-injure to overcoming thoughts about suicide and avoid attempting suicide.

Suicide and accidental death

We know that people who self-injure can be at increased risk of suicidal thoughts and may attempt suicide later in life. NSSI can also increase in severity, and may lead to more severe and life-threatening injuries over time, which could potentially result in accidental death if appropriate medical care is not sought.