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What it is: Suicidality involves the thoughts, urges, and behaviors associated with a wish or plan to take one’s own life. Suicide is a major public health problem: it is the second leading cause of death in young people, and it is in the top 10 leading causes of death for adults in the US. Moreover, the CDC recently released a report showing that suicide rates are on the rise nationwide (CDC, 2018).
A similar yet distinct behavior is called non-suicidal self-injury and includes any behavior that causes damage to the physical self without the intent to die (e.g., cutting, burning). People engage in self-injury for a variety of reasons, including self-punishment, distraction, or to reduce feelings of numbness or detachment.
Fortunately, treatments are available that target both suicidal and non-suicidal self-injurious behavior. These treatments include both short-term and long-term goals. In the short-term, treatment involves learning more effective and less damaging coping skills for managing intense emotional distress. Over the long-term, treatment is focused on creating a life worth living.
Associated concerns: Suicidality and self-injury often co-occur with mood disturbance, anxiety and stress, perfectionism and shame, or traumatic experiences. When individuals have trouble coping with these symptoms, they may also develop difficulties with substance abuse or anger management.
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