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Self-harm in such individuals may not be associated with suicidal or para-suicidal behaviour.People who self-harm are not usually seeking to end their own life; it has been suggested instead that they are using self-harm as a coping mechanism to relieve emotional pain or discomfort or as an attempt to communicate distress.

When self-harm is associated with depression, antidepressant drugs and therapy may be effective.The most common form of self-harm is using a sharp object to cut one's skin, but self-harm also covers a wide range of behaviours including burning, scratching, banging or hitting body parts, interfering with wound healing (dermatillomania), hair-pulling (trichotillomania) and the ingestion of toxic substances or objects.However, the boundaries are not always clearly defined and in some cases behaviours that usually fall outside the boundaries of self-harm may indeed represent self-harm if performed with explicit intent to cause tissue damage.A broader definition of self-harm might also include those who inflict harm on their bodies by means of disordered eating.Nonsuicidal self injury has been listed as a new disorder in the DSM-5 under the category "Conditions for Further Study".

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