Everyone copes with emotions differently. Some people choose to open up and talk about their feelings. Others prefer to distract themselves when they’re upset by reading a book or checking Facebook. Others might listen to music, hang out with a friend or watch a funny movie. These are examples of healthy ways of coping. Sometimes we deal with our emotions in unhealthy ways — like harming ourselves through behaviors like cutting.

Self-injury is when people deliberately hurt themselves to cope with overwhelming emotions like anger, anxiety or sadness. However, people rarely feel better after they self-injure. Often the guilt and shame make them feel worse.

Self-injury isn’t about suicide. Individuals don’t mean to kill themselves when they self-injure, even though accidental death does sometimes occur. Other complications of self-injury include infection, scars or other permanent damage to the body.

Common warning signs that someone might be self-injuring are scars or bruising, wearing long-sleeve clothing when it’s warm outside, spending lots of time alone and seeming depressed.

If you or someone you know is cutting or self-injuring in another way, it’s important to reach out for support. A counselor can help you work through the pain and find better ways to cope. Find some suggestions of healthier ways to deal with sadness, insecurity, anger or anxiety by clicking on “Feel Better.”