Part 02: Definition

Self-injury is defined in various ways, but the definition utilized by this website is as follows:

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) consists of self-inflicted deliberately destructive acts resulting in tissue damage that are not intended as an act of suicide, are not widely socially acceptable, and are not due to mental retardation, autism, or other developmental disorders.

This definition is important. For one thing, it helps distinguish self-injury from suicide attempts. This distinction has resulted in the term nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). The two behaviors are very different and have very different motivations. In short, suicide is an attempt to die, and self-injury is coping mechanism for survival. This definition also helps to differentiate between pathological self-injury and social self-injury such as tattoos and body piercing. It may sometimes be difficult to tell whether or not the behavior is socially motivated, but the student may be able to provide this information. Finally, the self-injury referred to on this website is not that which is often found in cases of mental retardation, autism, or other developmental disorders- it is self-injury that is done by someone who is fully aware of what they are doing.