Self-Harming And Suicidal Acts

While suicide and self-harm are interconnected issues and may have some similar risk factors, they are not the same. There are important distinctions to be made between these two behaviours. The following table shows differences between self-harming and suicidal acts in the person’s intention for carrying out the act, the method used in the act, and its potential to be fatal.

Table 1

Differences between self-harming and suicidal acts.[1]

Self-harming acts Suicidal acts
The intent is to relieve emotional distress; to live and feel better. The intent is to end unbearable pain; to die.
The method used is thought by the person to be non-lethal (for example, shallow cutting, burning). The method used is lethal or thought by the person to be lethal.
The potential for the act to be fatal is usually unlikely or perceived by the person as unlikely; however can inadvertently result in death. The potential for the act to be fatal is highly likely or perceived by the person as likely.

 

[1] Department of Communities. (2008). Responding to people at risk of suicide. How can you and your organisation help? Queensland Government.

 

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