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"All the little things that might have been annoying me suddenly seem so trivial because I'm concentrating on the pain. I'm not a person who can scream and shout so this is my only outlet. It's all done very logically."

Self-harm (SH), also termed self-injury (SI), is the act or acts of deliberately hurting oneself. Methods of doing so include, but are not limited to cutting, scratching, burning, biting, and banging or hitting body parts. Eating disorders are also considered to exist on the self-harm spectrum, as are some high-risk unsafe sexual practices (specifically anything related to Erotic Asphyxiation, weapons play with "live" weapons such as sharp knives or loaded firearms, and/or intentionally trying to become infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.) Particularly easy to miss are those who commit emotional self-harm, which can be both a surrogate and precursor to physical self-harm.note  Some consider cigarette smoking and tobacco use and/or the intentional consumption of severely unhealthy foods as forms of Self Harm, but this is somewhat controversial because the motivations underlying both behaviors are often somewhat different than those underlying more traditional forms of self-harm.note 

There is a lot of stigma surrounding self-harm. In fiction, it is generally associated with the emo subculture and often thought that self-injurers are "just doing it for attention". Cutting is by far the most represented form of SI in fiction, though other forms are seen.

In reality, however, there are many reasons for self-harm, and it is not confined to (or encouraged by) any particular subcultures. It is usually a sign that someone is really hurting inside or suffering from mental illness; self-harm is associated with a variety of mental illnesses, including depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD is, in fact, the only illness for which the DSM lists self-harm as a criterion.) Contrary to the belief that they are seeking attention, many self-injurers will go to great lengths to hide their injuries or keep the reason that they received those injuries a secret by covering them up with clothing and/or makeup or by claiming that the injuries were an accident, respectively.

Reasons for self-injury include, but are not limited to:

  • Relief of emotional pain: many people who self-harm suffer from disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder which cause intense emotional ups or downs. Self-harm can provide temporary relief from these emotions.
  • To generate feelings: On the other end of the spectrum, some people who self-harm have feelings of numbness or dissociation, and the only way that they can feel anything at all is by hurting themselves.
  • Control: Often in addition to one or both of the above, people may self-harm because the pain it generates is the only feeling that they are able to control.
  • Self-punishment: some people who self-harm do it because they think they've done something that warrants punishment, or perhaps they suffer from self-loathing and think they deserve to suffer pain.
  • Sexual gratification via pain: Some people obtain sexual gratification via acts that are sufficiently extreme enough to cross over from "harmless" (e.g. getting insulted or spanked) to Self Harm (e.g. Erotic Asphyxiation or knife play) whether with a partner or alone.
  • To communicate to others: Although it's much less frequent than is usually portrayed, some people self-harm because they don't know how to effectively communicate to others. It doesn't make them manipulative or attention-seeking, it just means that they don't know of better ways to communicate. It can be a sort of distress signal. Some people do this because they feel that their mental health isn't taken seriously and use this to say, "Please, listen. I need help. This really is an issue. This is what can happen if I don't get the help I need."
  • Though it's not as common as the others, some simply do it as a quick and simple way to feel good for a short amount of time.
  • Religion or ritual: Though it's not as common as the other reasons in modern times, some people self-harm or subject themselves to harm from someone else as a result of religious belief or as a ritual act. In past times, it was far more common, with a distinct overlap between it and the above-mentioned reasons of self-punishment or sexual gratification.
  • Seeking community/social acceptance: This one is almost exclusive to eating disorders and to seeking HIV infection: cutting, burning, and the like aren't usually done to be a part of a community, but some people actually want to be anorexic or bulimic because anorexia or bulimia make them skinny/socially accepted, or because they can relate to other eating disordered people online or in real life. Some of those who seek HIV infection view being HIV+ as a "club" or "community," and seek it for that reason, as well. It is also the reason some people smoke and/or consume unhealthy foods if you consider one or both of those intentional self-harm.

It should be noted that not all people who self-harm are suicidal, though there is an increased risk of suicide in those who do, especially accidental suicide if the person truly does not care about living or dying, or has no education or interest in harm reduction/is engaging in specifically risky practices. However, in media, self-harm frequently signifies that a character is suicidal.

Self-Mutilation Demonstration is another reason why characters might deliberately injure themselves, as is any situation when they're faced with a Life-or-Limb Decision. Compare Stop Hitting Yourself, where an opponent or bully forces someone to hurt oneself.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • In Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Amadeus Arkham's patient, serial killer Martin "Mad Dog" Hawkins, states that he cuts his arms with a razor "[j]ust to feel. Just to feel something."
    • Joker's Daughter mentions that as a teenager she was an anorexic who also cut herself often.
    • Victor Zsasz cuts tallys into his sink to keep count of all the people he's killed.
    • In the autobiographical Dark Night: A True Batman Story, Paul Dini reveals he cut himself with the wings of his Emmy award after an actress named Regina refused to go with him as his date to the ceremony.
  • Speedball, a.k.a. Robbie Baldwin of New Warriors, wound up needing to do this to use his powers because of his guilt following the disastrous explosion in Stamford, Connecticut that claimed the lives of 612 people. For a time, he wears a special suit that constantly injures him so that he can unlock them and dubs himself Penance. Even after he gets rid of the suit and goes back to his old persona, he admits that he still cuts himself to store up the energy he uses as Penance because this power is more useful in a fight, but he realizes how harmful this is, and Hank Pym offers to get him help.
  • In the first arc of Runaways, Nico uses a pocketknife to cut her arm whenever she has to summon the Staff of One (which only appears when she bleeds). Though Nico is a Perky Goth, she actually is not normally a cutter. In fact, after the first arc is over, she can't bring herself to use the pocketknife and instead resorts to more imaginative ways to bleed (including making use of that time of the month).
  • In The Sandman (1989), Despair habitually tears her skin with the hooked ring that she wears. At one point, she cuts her eyeball open, which is mercifully only narrated, not shown. It doesn't leave permanent marks, presumably because she's as immortal as the rest of the Endless.
  • In Strangers in Paradise, Tambi Baker used to cut herself while in the employ of Darcy Parker.
  • X-23 habitually cuts herself on the wrists and forearms with her claws, and is first shown engaging in this behavior after being forced to kill her sensei as a test of the trigger scent. Laura can fall under all of the reasons for cutting noted above, and one issue of her solo series suggests she may even be inflicting fatal injuries on herself: An employee at a hotel where she was staying with Gambit reported to his manager that it appeared as if someone attempted to commit suicide in a bathroom she just left. Her Healing Factor prevents her from dying from her wounds, however, and completely heals the resulting scars.
  • In The Crow, to vent his anguish Eric uses a straight razor to slash one forearm, and later cuts a stylized crown of thorns into his chest. These leave nasty scars, unlike other injuries which appear to completely heal.
  • In Finder, Jaeger, the protagonist of several arcs, sometimes has to resort to self-harm if he doesn't get injured in some other way, as he has a very strong Healing Factor that, if not activated every so often, gives him an auto-immune disease. This is played for black humour in one story where he starts cutting himself in his girlfriend's bathroom, gets too enthusiastic, leaves the bathroom looking like a slaughterhouse, and jumps out of the window and runs away in embarrassment when she gets home. She muses that it was the first time she had a boyfriend who ran away and killed himself.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye:
    • Because Cyclonus is The Stoic, instead of giving vent to his emotional turmoil regarding Tailgate by yelling or crying, he drags his clawlike hands through his own face. At one point, Whirl (of all people) grabs his wrist and stops him.
      Whirl: Don't.
    • Chief Justice Tyrest practices a form of self-flagellation where he constantly drills holes in himself, even having a drill built into his finger so he could do it whenever he felt the need, as a way of coping with his out-of-control guilt complex; it's not healthy - it's theorised that it may have even caused some measure of brain damage - but at least it's healthier than his OTHER way of coping with his guilt complex. He eventually uses it to take out one of the series' main candidates for a Big Bad, the Grand Architect, in a Mutual Kill.

    Films — Animated 
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Spider-Man Noir lets matches burn down to his fingertips, just to feel something, anything.
  • During a fight scene in Steven Universe: The Movie, Spinel hits herself on the head with her own fist (complete with squeaky toy hammer sound effects) to get herself to focus.
  • There are several points during Turning Red, especially early on, where Mei slaps herself to convince herself to stop talking or to punish herself for disappointing her mother. Then there is the scene where in her room, after discovering that her transformations run in the family, Mei tries (and fails) to stop them by slamming against the walls and the floor, and trying to rip off her red panda body parts.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Abyss, self-harm is one of the signs of Lt. Coffey's descent into insanity.
  • In 28 Days, there is a scene where Andrea, Gwen's roommate at rehab, is caught self-injuring by Gwen.
  • In Asylum 2008, Ivy confesses to Madison that she is a self-injurer.
  • Augusta Gone explicitly shows a scene of cutting while the character Augusta is at a camp for "problem" teens.
  • One of the characters in the '80s horror film Bad Dreams.
    "I just make a little hole, and it all goes away."
  • Karin from Cries and Whispers has a lot of issues, really, with pent-up rage and an inability to express love and a dickhead of a husband. So she stabs herself in the vagina with a shard of glass. And then she smears the blood all over her face.
  • Nell in Don't Bother to Knock has wrist scars from a previous suicide attempt. She tries to slash her throat late in the film, but Jed and Lyn talk her down.
  • In the movie Eat 2014, unemployed actress Novella deals with mounting stress by eating chunks of flesh from her arms and foot. It is treated as a mental illness on par with conventional self-harm, but nobody seems to notice her cry for help.
  • Feast of Love: Bradley cuts off his fingertip feeling distraught due to his wife's cheating.
  • In the film of Girl, Interrupted:
    • Daisy is a cutter, something that is not a part of her character in the novel.
    • In a deleted scene, Lisa is shown self-harming, by burning her cigarettes on her forearm (in the shape of a cat), which is why she is seen wearing a bandage on it.
  • In Gunless, Sean carves notches into his left arm so the scars form tally marks: one for each man he has killed.
  • Veronica in Heathers is prone to burning herself as an expression of dislike for her actions or situation.
  • Discussed in High Fidelity. After Laura's father dies, she has sex with Rob and they get back together. She says it's either that or stick her hand in the fire.
  • Loving Annabelle: Colins is shown to cut herself, probably for dealing with her social anxiety and getting bullied.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road:
    • The Splendid Angharad's facial scars have been confirmed to be from self-harm, with the implication she did it both to cope with life as a Sex Slave and to herself to make herself less desirable to Immortan Joe. Also, as a Freeze-Frame Bonus, small scars can be seen on her wrist as she hands Max the water hose.
    • The same kind of scars can be seen for a split second on Furiosa's wrist while she activates the Rig's killswitches, although in another closeup a second later they are no longer visible. It's strongly implied that she was a former Wife as well.
    • When Splendid finds Nux on the War Rig, he's weeping and begins banging his own head violently — not in frustration, but in an act to hurt himself.
  • Cho-won from Marathon (2005) has a scar on his hand from biting himself. He used to do it all the time, but he hardly ever does it since he started running.
  • In Meadowland, Sarah notices scars on the arm of her student Alma. She asks if it's supposed to feel good, and Alma answers, "No. It hurts." Sarah later tries cutting herself with a razor to cope with the disappearance of her son, and finds it excruciatingly painful.
  • M.F.A.: Skye cuts herself, as Noelle finds upon finding her in the bathroom. It's unstated, but clearly implied she does so as a result of her trauma due to being raped. This also Foreshadows Skye's later suicide by the same means, a razor blade.
  • Most Likely to Murder (2018): Billy thinks the scratches on Lowell's arm are from his murder victim, but really they were self-inflicted due to the stress of his mother's death.
  • Return of the Living Dead 3: Zombie Julie (Melinda Clarke) keeps inflicting pain to her own body to try to mitigate her Horror Hunger. With diminishing returns... After a while she becomes a genuine Human Pincushion after impaling herself with numerous spikes and blades to stave off the hunger.
  • Saw:
    • After leaving her drug addiction from her test in the first film, Amanda began cutting herself, which is what lands her in another trap in Saw II (actually, that was her part in the game's plan as a watchperson to John, but she did still harm herself). She's seen cutting one of her legs in Saw III, laying out all the tools before she starts (in an attempt to gain control over her situation), and later tightly grips a knife until she begins to bleed onto the floor (because she's starting to lose control, in comparison to the previous scenes).
    • Paul Leahy, a victim in the first film, had run a straight razor across his wrists twice (either to gain attention or to kill himself, as John asks via tape).
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal's character in Secretary does this due to her submissive nature. There's one scene of her pressing a still hot kettle on her thigh.
  • In The Sniper, Eddie Miller attempts to overcome his impulse to kill by deliberately burning his hand on hotplate.
  • In Son of the Stars, the autistic boy Xinxin bites himself aggressively on the wrist. When he's missing, his mother bites herself hard enough to draw blood.
  • In Stiletto, Lee's girlfriend Penny is shown doing this whenever she is left alone for too long. Her acts include extinguishing cigarettes on her thigh, and cutting her wrist with a pocketknife.
  • The Summer of Sangaile: Sangaile cuts herself frequently, having both her forearms crisscrossed with scars. Auste is casual about it, even telling her to do seventeen so it matches Sangaile's age, while cutting her arm too in solidarity. It seems to be a coping mechanism for negative feelings, since Sangaile mentions she first cut herself after her mom had said she's weak. It's not explicitly stated, but implied that by the end she's stopped.
  • Thirteen (2003): The main character is a cutter.
  • Julie in Three Colors: Blue starts harming herself after the deaths of her husband and child, most notably in a sequence where she deliberately drags her fist along a jagged stone wall.
  • Tiger House: After killing Lynn's lover, Callum heats the blade of his knife and presses the hot metal against his forearm and some form of penance/control mechanism. The identical scars on his arm indicate this is not the first time he has done this.
  • In Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, there is a school club devoted to this.
  • When Time Got Louder: Kayden is beaten by two strangers on a public bus. When the police arrive, one of them yells at him to calm down. Kayden starts frantically hitting himself and banging his head against the back of a seat.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • In X2: X-Men United, this is implicitly where all of Nightcrawler's scars came from. (His are unusual in that they look like artistic, ritual scarification, which is different from most self-harm injuries.)
      One for every sin. So, quite a few.
    • In X-Men: The Last Stand, when his wings first appear, Angel tries to scrape them off with files and graters.
    • In Logan, Laura is seen on a video recording cutting herself and watching the injuries heal while she's an experimental subject in a Transigen lab.

  • In The Amy Virus, Cyan tries cutting herself when she's stressed out about her grades. Not only does it not work, it hurts like crazy.
  • Codex Alera: The Canim Ritualist Morak has arms covered in self-harm scars. In his case, this is to establish him as a good guy and follower of the Good Old Ways. Canim Ritualists use Blood Magic and have to spill blood in order to make it work. Good ones, who emphasize community service and self-sacrifice as part of their art spill their own blood, the ones who are only in it for the power tend to use someone else's.
  • Perhaps the best-known example in YA fiction is Patricia McCormick's Cut, about a cutter.
  • Distress: When Gina leaves Worth, she yells at him for being selfish and unfeeling because he doesn't react strongly enough to the breakup. Worth reacts by calmly grabbing a knife and slashing it back and forth across his stomach.
  • Even If We Break: Ever's sister Elle has anxiety and is terrified of storms. She scratches herself or bites her lip until she bleeds. The family is too poor to afford therapy, so Ever and their dad support her as best they can.
  • In Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Oskar frequently bruises himself when he is upset.
  • Hayleigh from Fat does this, but it's to fake her periods.
  • In the Frozen book A Frozen Heart, Hans runs his fingers over the rough wood of the table and finds the pain the splinters cause to be "oddly pleasant. Physical pain he could handle."
  • Ann from the Gemma Doyle trilogy is not a fan of herself. This is to the point of self-harm.
  • It's mentioned in passing in ghostgirl that one of the Dead Ed students died from self-harm. She'd cut but not deep enough to do massive damage. She ended up dying due to an infection caused by her cutting.
  • In Girl, Interrupted, Susanna bites her hands due to feelings of depersonalization. This is omitted from the film.
  • In Jodi Picoult's Handle with Care, Amelia, the older daughter of the main character, begins cutting (in addition to developing bulimia), to deal with her feelings of neglect and loneliness.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Werewolves will attack themselves out of frustration while transformed if there are no humans around to attack.
    • House-elves are compelled to physically punish themselves if they disobey their masters.
      "Bad Dobby!"
  • Horus Heresy: Serena d'Angelus, an artist in Fulgrim, cuts herself to deal with her frustrations. After the corruption of Slaanesh infects the remembrancers that went to Laeran, her self-mutilation gets worse and then she discovers that mixing blood with her paints makes shades that she cannot replicate normally.
  • In I Am J, J's friend Melissa cuts herself. It makes her mad whenever J brings it up.
  • Limbo, the 1952 science fiction novel by Bernard Wolfe, depicts a future world where young men undergo voluntary amputation as the moral equivalent of war, a case of literal disarmament. Some go to the extent of forsaking prosthetic limbs to spend the rest of their lives being tended like a baby in an adult crib.
  • Livvie from Livvie Owen Lived Here yanks on her hair to calm herself. When she was younger, she used to pull out such big chunks that her scalp bled, so for years her parents kept it cut short. Now she's learned to pull on her hair more gently, so she's allowed to have long hair again.
  • Jude from A Little Life self-harms throughout the novel.
  • Lost Voices: Jo, a mermaid who was kicked out of her last tribe for trying to contact humans, constantly bites her hand, sometimes hard enough to draw blood.
  • In Piers Anthony's Mode series, the main character is introduced sneaking off to the bathroom to cut herself again, keeping her scarred wrists hidden by fashionable bands. She also exploits her 'habit' by setting a challenge to see who can bleed the most, her opponent is not willing to cut himself at all, so she wins.
  • In book 7 of Morganville Vampires, after the death of the love of her life, Sam, Amelie falls into depression and begins cutting her wrists at the site of Sam's grave.
  • Tahiri does this for a few books in the late New Jedi Order. It's eventually revealed that this is her repressed Yuuzhan Vong personality, Riina, trying to assert herself (the Vong practice ritual scarring- and at high level, other forms of Body Horror- as a status symbol and religious rite). After pulling a Split-Personality Merge, Tahiri stops having the impulse, though she remains Vong enough inside that she won't let anyone remove the scars.
  • The Nowhere Girls: After Erin survives an Attempted Rape, she runs home, where she bangs her head against the wall and hits herself. Spot puts himself between her head and the wall, gently tugs her arm away from her head, and sits on her.
  • Sephora from Post-High School Reality Quest has bulimia. Once she develops massive food cravings, eats a huge meal and then pukes it all up, and is so disgusted with herself for eating so much that she cuts. She does a bad job of hiding the injury, so her mom takes her to the hospital. The doctors there are more concerned about her weight than they are about the self-harm.
  • In The Schizogenic Man, Heron breaks his foot in a warehouse accident. He's given two weeks off work. Heron hates his job, so he kicks the wall with his injured foot until it's broken so severely that he gets a month off work and a year-long reclassification to Strictly Non-Strenuous.
  • School's Out -- Forever has a couple of scenes where Ari bites his arm to make himself feel better about his daddy issues (among other issues).
  • Lily from The Secret Life of Bees has a habit of picking her scabs or biting her nails 'till they bleed when nervous.
  • Shadows on the Moon: The heroine turns to cutting to deal with the stress of survivor's guilt.
  • In Shine Shine Shine, the autistic four-year-old Bubber wears a helmet due to his tendency to head bang.
  • In The Southern Reach Trilogy, the biologist discovers that pain holds the transformation at bay, so in her 30-year stay at Area X she is revealed to have done things such as deliberately stepping on a nail and allowing herself to be bitten by a venomous snake. Grace discovers the biologist's notes and also does some self-harm to stop the change.
  • One scene in Speak features Melinda scratching herself with a paperclip until she bleeds.
  • In The Speed of Sound, this is Eddie's main way of expressing negative emotions. He mostly sticks to slapping himself, but uses sharp objects if he's particularly upset. He still has scars on his cheek from his childhood, when he used to self-harm regularly. Once when he was a kid he slapped himself so many times that his dad had to take him to the emergency room, leading the ER staff to suspect abuse until Eddie started slapping himself in front of them.
  • Uglies: In Pretties, Shay leads a group of Pretties who cut themselves to focus their minds. In Specials, the Cutters cut themselves, burn themselves, and subject themselves to extreme cold for similar reasons.
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts:
    • Giselle is obsessed with fire and doesn't mind burning herself. The way she sees it, everything will be destroyed eventually, including her body, so she might as well burn her hands now when she can control it.
    • Theo self-flagellates and sleeps in a salt bath to rid himself of his impure thoughts about Aster.
  • In Vampire Academy, Lissa used to cut herself when depressed.
  • Kya from Where the Crawdads Sing copes with being stuck in the county jail by plucking her hair and scratching her arms hard enough to leave marks.
  • In Wicked, Elphaba was born with sharp teeth. Being a baby, she has no self-control and likes biting things. She's kept in a sling so that she can't bite herself or anything else. Eventually, the teeth fell out and were replaced with normal teeth.
  • Julia Hoban's novel Willow is about a cutter.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites are warned not to do this as part of their mourning rituals, or their religious rituals, as many of the cultures around them did.

  • The Magnus Archives: The narrator of the episode "Killing Floor" finds one of his colleagues at the slaughterhouse shooting himself with a bolt gun in various parts of his body.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dialed up to about fourteen by Malfeas in Exalted, who - being a Genius Loci packed with Malevolent Architecture - self-harms by slamming shells together as a manifestation of his cosmic bipolar disorder stemming from his defeat in the Primordial War, mixing reasons one and four above. The Abyssals are also portrayed this way occasionally, but usually they don't need to bother - if they're trying to be good people, their own Exaltations go out of their way to injure them, so self-harm is basically a waste of time.
    Holden Shearer: Funny thing: To the extent that the setting has anyone who is an emo cutter, it is actually Malfeas. However, he'll never get called on it, because he sulks while listening to Megadeth and he does his cutting with a chainsaw.
  • Orlanda Elliot, one of the sample characters in Scion, is a cutter. After becoming a Scion, the cuts actually did something useful (shedding her own blood gives her Legend), giving her no reason to stop. The reasons amount to 1, 3, and 4 in the description.
  • This is the basis of the Epideromancy school of magic in Unknown Armies. Hurting yourself gives you charges; the more severe the wound, the more powerful the charge. Many epideromancers engaged in self-harm before they became adepts, and eventually took it to the point they started to draw power from it. Exaggerated in how you get major charges - you need to maim yourself permanently. (Amputating a limb or putting out an eye both work; the major NPC known as the Freak drank acid.) Notably, the taboo of epideromancy is that they cannot allow anyone else to alter their body; anything from dental work to getting a haircut violates the taboo.

  • Quite possibly the only example of this trope Played for Laughs occurs in Little Shop of Horrors. Seymour discovers that his strange and unusual plant, Audrey II, eats blood when he accidentally pricks his finger on some roses. As a result, he feeds Audrey II by pricking his fingers and letting the plant literally suck him dry. This works out fine until Audrey II gets too big for Seymour's blood alone to satisfy it...

    Video Games 
  • ADOM
    • One of the weirder items in the game, potions of self-mutilation cause a small amount of damage to the drinker (or monster they're thrown at) via invoking this trope.
    "You feel the need to scratch at your face, your skin and bash yourself!"
  • Simon from Cry of Fear has several gashes on his left wrist, which he had apparently cut prior to the game's start. They are visible when he injects himself with morphine. The opening scene of the non-canon "Memories" bonus story involves Simon cutting while having flashbacks to the events of the main game.
  • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls: Toko Fukawa can activate a controlled-variant of her Split Personality Genocide Jack by deliberately tasering herself. She notes that she didn't want to activate the Jack personality too often with this method because she fears that tasering herself too much will fry her brain.
  • Susie of Deltarune sometimes makes offhanded comments about stabbing herself. It is currently not clear whether she is joking or not.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has the schizophrenic Nightkin Dog of the Dead Money DLC. In an attempt to subdue his Split Personality, he has taken to physically scarring himself heavily and even attaching a bear trap to his fist to shut out the voice.
  • Neverending Nightmares has you playing a character with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, amongst other problems, exploring a series of nightmares. The nightmares usually end with him, seemingly for no reason, harming himself in some horrible way, ranging from cutting a deep, wide gash in his stomach with a knife to doing unspeakably gory things to his own arms.
  • Persona 3: Chidori is eventually discovered to do this.
  • At one point in the Serial Experiments Lain video game, Lain breaks a mirror and sinks a piece of glass into her neck.
  • Various sharp items in The Binding of Isaac explicitly damage Isaac/the player character in favor of some sort of in-game benefit. A literal Razor Blade increases Isaac's damage for the room, Dull Razor inflicts a "fake" hit that does not actually deplete Isaac's health but activates items that normally only work when taking damage, and Blood Rights (a straight-edge razor) damages all enemies in the room. The former can be unlocked as a starting item for Eve in Afterbirth by donating enough to the Greed Machine. In terms of passive items, Isaac has a habit of jamming certain objects in him to gain their effect, such as with Tiny Planet, Iron Bar, and Small Rock being stuck in his head.
  • This Starry Midnight We Make: Nagare discusses this in the cutscene that gives out her third quest, talking about how her father doesn't give her any attention:
    Nagare: What do you think I should do to get him to pay attention to me?
    Should I get good grades in school?
    Would he pay attention if I... got hurt?...
    Hamomoru: Er - let's NOT think about that!
    But... hmm. It seems you've thought about this a lot.
    Why not just write your father a letter about it?

    Visual Novels 
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!
    • Yuri is revealed to have a habit of cutting herself. Although she's lonely and anxious, it may not be a way of relieving pain so much as something that gives her a kind of high or that she does when she gets "excited", although this is left ambiguous. The habit is only hinted at in the first act but becomes extreme in the second act when she starts losing her mind and her odd personality traits become exaggerated, reaching an absurd climax when she stabs herself. This also makes it hard to know how exactly she practised the habit when she was still herself; most of what is seen happens when she's not.
    • A "special poem" that can appear in act 2 seems to suggest that Monika tried cutting herself just once, also referring to knowing of Yuri's doing it. She describes it as "exhilarating". The writer of the note doesn't actually identify themselves, and the other person's name is redacted, but it best fits those characters. It may have something to do with how Monika has been suffering from unbearable feelings of derealisation; she also mentions the possibility of suicide here. Word of God confirms this.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • A symptom of Hinamizawa Syndrome is self-harm, normally scratching at the neck due to hallucinations of having bugs under your skin.
    • Rena used to cut herself out of paranoia, and likely depression, in the past. In one arc she also begins viciously scratching her skin due to believing she's infested with maggots.
  • Missing Stars is still in development, and thus is subject to change; however, concept art and official art suggests Katja cuts herself. The 2018 demo also shows that Katja wears bandages on her wrists.
  • Slow Damage has Towa perform self-harm, as it's part of his sado-masochistic tendencies, and he notes relishing in the pain he gets. He finds it rather arousing, too.

  • It has been confirmed via Word of God that in Ava's Demon the scars on the title character's upper arms are from self-harm. Michelle has also revealed that Ava's signature scarf is to hide SH scars on her chest.
  • Nikki from Between The Lines (2006) apparently has a history of cutting herself.
  • Faen of Drowtales is shown to have developed this behavior after the 15-year timeskip, and digs her fingernails into her back until she bleeds, apparently due to anxiety. She's seen picking at a cut on her hand a page earlier, and Ariel's comments imply that this isn't the first time it's happened. Sadly not surprising considering that Faen is already a Nervous Wreck due to her empathy.
  • Grey is... : Black cuts himself the night after he remembers who White is while thinking about Ameers death, White knows and the next day calmly cleans and redresses the wound. White later says that he doesn't get it and asks if it's a new game he's playing, implying that Black didn't self-harm before White left.
  • During Gamzee's Freak Out in Homestuck, he slices himself across the face with Nepeta's claws for unclear reasons. Word of God says it was because joyful self-mutilation is Squicky (and therefore hilarious).
  • Played for Dark Comedy in Penny and Aggie. Aggie, regretful over having urged Duane to ask out Michelle (forgetting that she's in recovery from an eating disorder and other issues), pictures a cartoonishly stupid version of herself shoving Duane at Michelle, who's staring at her wrist and thinking of a razor blade.
  • Saha of Rasputin Catamite constantly cuts into his arms and wrists with a small blade, for no apparent reason.
  • Unsounded:
    • While thinking of his beloved wife who died a few years prior after Quigley betrayed her to the state Quigley tears at the scar where his marriage brand was with his fingernails, only stopping when Iori pulls his hand away from the bleeding lines.
    • Orphans reveals that Quigley painfully destroyed his own marriage brand by burning it with a heated knife, he then started to plunge the knife into his chest intending to pierce his heart only for Matty to stop him.
  • In Strong Female Protagonist, Alison finds that Patrick's torso is covered in scars, which he explains to not have done to himself out of suicidal or self-destructive tendencies. Rather, they were from a time in his youth when he was still trying to control his powers, as a means of helping to remind himself which body was his. This revelation makes Alison even more concerned for him.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • Cracked has discussed self-harm before, most notably in this article
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-847 is a mannequin that shatters parts of itself that a male who spends time with it finds undesirable or outdated.

    Western Animation 
  • Lemongrab of Adventure Time seems to have a habit of jumping out of high windows when he's in distress.
  • In Castlevania, Issac, one of Dracula's human disciples, engages in self-flagellation with a belt embedded with spikes. When asked why, he says it helps him gain focus and a sense of peace.
  • Toot on Drawn Together giggles as she tells us she cuts herself to dull the pain.
  • Family Guy:
    • Meg is sometimes depicted as fragile and disturbed and as a way to solve her problems she stated to her mom that she cuts herself. In another episode when Connie (who always bullies Meg) asked Meg to help her become popular again after Chris became popular Meg told her off and showed her the scars on her arm that she made from cutting herself as a result of Connie's bullying.
    • Quagmire marries Joan (a Yandere) in the episode "I Take Thee Quagmire". Peter convinces him to get a divorce using champagne and Lois' breasts, and when he tries to broach the subject, she threatens to cut herself with a kitchen knife.
  • Uncle in Season 4 of Jackie Chan Adventures hits himself with his own two-finger slap, blaming himself for getting Tohru captured by Ikazuki.
  • There was an episode of Moral Orel, where Orel was doing this to varying degrees to achieve penitence. In that episode, for once, Orel doesn't get belted by Clay because of the whole penitence thing.
    • A later episode, Numb, has Orel's mother, Bloberta, do this by masturbating with power tools—Yes, actual power tools.
  • In the Season 4 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Catra rips her hair in moments of distress.
  • In the Steven Universe: Future episode "Homeworld Bound", Steven's angst and resentment towards being a Diamond boils over into a Freak Out where he bashes his forehead against a pillar in a symbolic gesture of wishing death upon White Diamond. By this point in the series, it is established that his Healing Factor mitigates but does not prevent bone-fracturing injuries he sustains, and judging by the impact crater he left behind, it's likely he struck the pillar with enough force to shatter his own skull.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Self Injury



An update provides a new ending has Ame finally reaching her dream of one million subscribers--at the cost of her own sanity and life.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DrivenToSuicide

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