Self-harm and Autism

**Trigger Warning – contains reference to cutting and suicidal feelings

Some people with autism practice self-harm. This means that they deliberately hurt themselves. It’s not clear why people do this, but it can be related to their mental health.
People who have autism sometimes describe their experience of the world in terms of “us” and “them.” People with autism sometimes worry about fitting in socially or feel that they are being told that their way of looking at the world is wrong. This can be really upsetting, and in some cases, people may try to stop these thoughts by hurting themselves.


People who have autism sometimes feel under pressure to behave or act in a certain way but struggle with the unexpected consequences of their behavior which other people don’t understand. When this happens, people may feel that they’ve done something wrong and punish themselves.

Showing Distress

Self-harm can be a way of showing distress when the person feels unable to express it in other ways. It can also indicate serious distress and/or suicidal feelings. Self-harm does not mean that you are suicidal. It’s important to remember this when thinking about self-harm. It could indicate that the person needs urgent help and support. Sometimes, especially when people are in crisis, they may hurt themselves without really meaning to; this is still a sign that they need help.


People who practice self-harm sometimes do it to punish themselves for perceived faults or flaws but almost always feel worse after doing it. They usually want to stop hurting themselves but find it difficult. People who self-harm are often also depressed.

Self-harm can be very serious and should not be taken lightly. If you are concerned about someone you know, talk to them or seek help from an adult you trust.

There is Hope!

For more information about autism, you can visit the Autism Speaks website.
If you are in crisis, please contact your counseling services. If there is life, there is hope!


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