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Self harm:

Self- injury (self- harm, self- mutilation) can be defined as the attempt to deliberately cause harm to one's own body and the injury is usually severe enough to cause tissue damage. This is not a conscious attempt at suicide, though some people may see it that way.

It has been reported that many people who self- injure have a history of sexual or physical abuse, but that is not always the case. There are many factors that could cause someone to self- injure as a way to cope.

Self- injury can help someone relieve intense feelings such as anger, sadness, loneliness, shame, guilt and emotional pain. Many people who cut themselves, do this in an attempt to try and release all the emotions they are feeling internally. Some people find that dealing with physical pain is easier than dealing with emotional pain. Usually after self- injury is used, the person is left with a peaceful and calm feeling. Since these feelings are only temporary, the person will probably continue to self- injure until they deal with the underlying issues and finds healthier ways to cope.


In the United States, Montana has the second highest suicide rate, behind Nevada.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-34 year olds

Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa: a severe, life-threatening disorder in which the individual refuses to maintain a minimally normal body weight, is intensely afraid of gaining weight, exhibits a significant distortion in the perception of the shape or size of his body, as well as dissatisfaction with body shape and size.

Behavioral Characteristics:

- excessive dieting
- preoccupation with body building, weight lifting or muscle toning
- compulsive exercise
- frequently weighing self

Emotional and Mental Characteristics:

- intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight
- depression
- social isolation
- low sense of self-worth

Physical Characteristics:

- low body weight
- lack of energy
- muscular weakness
- thinning hair or hair loss

Bulimia Nervosa: a severe, life-threatening disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting or other purging methods (e.g., laxative, diuretics, excessive exercising, fasting) to prevent weight gain.

Behavioral Characteristics:

- recurrent episodes of being eating
- lack of control over eating
- recurrent purging to prevent weight gain
- hoarding food, hiding food or eating secretly

Emotional Characteristics:

- intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight
- works hard to please others
- strong need to be in control
- feelings of worthlessness

Physical Characteristics:

- weight fluctuation
- loss of dental enamel due to vomiting
- constipation
- lack of energy

Binge Eating: a severe, life threatening disorder characterized by recurrent episodes or compulsive overeating or binge eating. In binge eating disorder, the purging to prevent weight gain that is characteristic of bulimia nervosa is absent.

Behavioral Characteristics:

- recurrent episodes of binge eating
- eating much more rapidly that normal
- eating large amounts of food when not hungry
- eating until you feel uncomfortably full

Emotional Characteristics:

- feelings of disgust, guilt or depression during and after overeating
- binge eating, often triggered by uncomfortable feelings
- perfectionist
- disgust about body size

Physical Characteristics:

- heart or blood pressure problems
- joint problems
- abnormal blood-sugar levels
- difficulty engaging in physical activities

Tips for talking to a Friend Who May be Struggling with an Eating Disorder:
If you are worried about your friend's eating behaviors or attitudes, then it is appropriate for you to express your concerns to him/her in a loving and supportive way. It is important to handle these issues with honestly and respect. It is also important to discuss your worries early on, rather than waiting until your friend has endured many of the damaging physical and emotional effects of eating disorders. In a private and relaxed setting, talk with your friend in a calm and caring way about specific things you have seen or felt that have made you worry.

See links on Resources page for additional information.

See Teen Issues page for specific issues.