Is self-mutilation a sin?


Is self mutilation a sin? I used to have this problem a lot… then I got some help and I now have meds for my depression, I don’t really take them anymore, and as a result I have started cutting myself again…I am not looking for sympathy I just want to know if it is a sin.



I would guess that yes, it is a sin. I don’t think that those actions are compatible with the dignity and respect we are supposed to have for our bodies.


Can I ask why you stopped taking your meds?


because I want to find a way to get better without being dependent on a medication.


It would be a sin


No, this is an illness and needs professional help. Do not go off your medication without proper guidance from your doctor. This is extremely more important for you to consider at this point in time. There are ways and means to get off your medication in the course of time. If your doctor has put you on this medication now, he/she has a valid reason for doing so. Please speak with them if you are having doubts.

It is wonderful that:

  1. You have obviously received professional help in the first place.
  2. You have a desire to go off the medication which suggests you are desiring to become well, but DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO DO THIS ALONE - it can bring a lot of misery with it if you are not seeking therapy along with it.

God’s blessings and peace in your life.


I see. Having no medical education, I have no idea whether your idea is a good one or not.

I should say, though, that like all sins, our responsibility is lessened when it is not a matter of full consent, as happens with addiction, or other external or internal pressures. It might be that your condition prevents you from having full control of your will in this matter.


Short answer - doctors rarely if ever put you on medication for no reason, so ALWAYS take them as instructed and ALWAYS seek medical advice before going off any medication.


CCC paragraph 2297 contains this:

Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

I would think self-mutilation would be a sin against the 5th commandment, you shall not kill.

Perhaps this will motivate you to talk to your doctor. It’s a bad idea to change or stop taking medication without your doctor’s advice.

because I want to find a way to get better without being dependent on a medication.

That’s like someone with diabetes refusing to take their insulin for the same reason. Often people get the idea with mental illness that because it is in the brain, they can somehow will the disorder away. Mental illnesses are usually due to chemical imbalances which we have no control over.


I don’t know if it’s sinful, but I just wanted to let you know I used to cut myself as well, from age 15-18. I also, twice actually, stopped taking my anti-deppressants, cold-turkey. The first time because I ran out and couldn’t get more, the second time because I just decided I didn’t want or need them anymore. I couldn’t go back on them now even if I wanted to because my dad lost his job and he was the only one in the family with health insurance.
Anyway, it’s been…wow…over seven months now since I last cut. So I have some idea of what you’re going through. Please private message me anytime if you want to talk.


I know you’re not looking for symphathy, but I will offer some empathy… for a really long time I have struggled greatly with self-injury (and a few other mental health issues), and though I’m not completely free of it, and probably never will be, it has come to a point where it isn’t the biggest issue in my life. I will be praying for you, and also, I would like to extend the invitation for a PM if you would like.

As far as sinful, yes, it probably is, but knowing how hard it to stop such behavior by ones self, it would most likely be venial. I have heard this from two separate priests, one who is quite liberal and the other that’s very orthodox. As a side note, though, not seeking help to stop this behavior again is the “bigger” sin here. I would urge you to seek professional help again. It is not fun at all to admit to any “weakness” and there is still such a stigma against those with mental disorders, but I can assure you that admitting to any weakness and taking steps to change and grow healthier shows much more strength than trying to “will” it away. At least in my case, I know it isn’t possible at all. Instead, I am learning how to live with it, sometimes very well, other times, I’m barely hanging on by a thread, but I trust that God will not put anything more on me than I can handle.

Right now, I would say your main priority is to seek out healthier coping mechanisms to replace self-injury. In the meantime, as well as finding other coping techniques, maybe find some techniques to manage your depression. For me, at that early stage, it meant that I had to develop a consistant sleeping schedule, as getting too little or too much sleep both had very bad effects on me. Exercise and eating right are very important too. Tending to my spiritual life, and spending time in prayer and going to Mass is a definite need, too. It’s easy to forget about everything else outside of mental health when dealing with it a mental illness, but our bodies, minds, and souls are connected, and if one is out of wack, it’s really easy to cause the others to become unbalanced as well.

Also, another side note, St. Dymphna is the patron saint of mental illnesses. I have been praying through her for awhile, and the mental illness hasn’t gone away, but it is becoming more managable. God bless you in your struggle, and again, I’ll be praying for you.

God Bless!


I want to thank you all for the posts…I have done a lot of research and talk to a lot of ppl and I learned the actual name of my disorder…I have “Serotonin syndrome” I found out that I can not get better without my meds…which really sucks…but at least I know now. I have started taking my meds again and will continue. Again thank you all for you help and prayers.


Hi Bill,

If you think you have serotonin syndrome, please check with your doctor. That condition can be life-threatening. Your doctor will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and provide treatment if needed.

I am glad to hear you’re taking care of yourself. Continued prayers of healing for you.


So very happy for you that you have taken this initiative so far - yeh, it can ‘suck’ and I know it doesn’t seem fair. But it seems to be in our suffering that we come to realise how human we really are and how we can allow God to begin to come more and more into those spaces in His love and forgiveness. We are able to move more into a relationship with Him and realise our need for Him in our broken states. Jesus came for those who would need him. He did not come for the well - they don’t have a need for Him.

Please do go to your doctor and continue to do so, as if it is ‘serotin syndrome’, you are indeed at great risk and need proffessional guidance with this.

And go to Jesus to get your spiritual healing! :slight_smile: He will always be there with open arms to hold and embrace you.

God bless you.




B i l l 2 6. :heart:
although you said that you are not looking for sympathy, i need you to know that my heart breaks for your pain and completely goes out to you. i am sixteen now, but from the ages of twelve to fifteen, i struggled with extremely deep depression and anxiety, cutting and suicidal ideation, which culminated in a nearly fatal suicide attempt on march 28, 2007. the only reason that i am still alive to tell you the story of all that i’ve been through is because God intervened with a miracle the night that i tried to die, preserving my body from any harm, with the pills that i swallowed passing through my bloodstream without doing any damage. if He had not preserved my life so that—i truly believe with all my heart—i could live for His glory and share the story of my suffering with others who need to hear of His hope and Love, i would literally be in Hell right now. i treasure every moment of my life, and i am learning to appreciate the suffering that i still endure because of the scars that my dark past has left behind upon my soul. it is my deepest hope and prayer that in this post, i will be able to help you in at least some small way, and give you hope and encouragement. if you’d ever like to hear more of my story, please don’t hesitate to contact me—i am extremely open about my faith and my experiences, in the hope and prayer that it will lead others to the hope that is found completely and only in God.

first, to answer your question—i do believe that self-harm is a sin, not only because it goes against the fifth Commandment of “Thou shalt not kill,” but because it involves harming the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. i also believe, though, that because of the emotional pain involved, and its addictive tendencies (i know that one of the most painful and difficult experiences i’ve ever been through was the process of replacing self-harm with healthy ways to cope with stress), it is a venial sin—which doesn’t make it serious, and i could be wrong. you’d have to talk to a priest about this, and i definitely recommend that you do. there are many kind, loving, compassionate priests out there who will not judge you, but will refer you to someone who can give you the psychological help that you need, and then offer you spiritual assistance as well. i believe that you need to be treated not only through a secular therapist and psychiatrist, but through someone who is attuned spiritually and can help you experience the love, hope and healing of God—i know that my pastor has helped me immensely over these past few years, and even visited me when i was hospitalized for four and a half months in summer 2007 after my suicide attempt.

here is my advice to you, that you do these things in the following order:
1) Go to Confession—one receives many graces from Confession, and it helps one to grow closer to God. i can’t imagine God being condemning towards you when you are in so much pain (and i am truly so sorry beyond words for all of your suffering), but i do believe that it hurts Him immensely when we hurt ourselves, because He loves us so much more than we could ever imagine and only wants us to come to Him with our pain. He created you and doesn’t want you to harm your body, which is truly the temple of the Holy Spirit that dwells within you, and will give you the strength, power and courage that you need to endure all that you’re going through in a healthy, positive way, with secular, spiritual and God’s help. i recommend that you go to Confession as soon as possible and confess not only your self-harm, but all of your other sins, so that you can experience God’s cleansing, forgiveness and healing through the grace of this Sacrament.
**2) Talk to a priest about what you are going through—**i definitely recommend that you seek spiritual help for all of your suffering, someone who will probably be able to help you more than any secular resource ever could. i’m sure that there is at least one priest in your parish who will treat you with kindness, love and understanding, and will not judge you in any way, but will do all that he can to help you experience the love and hope and healing that is forever and completely in God alone. my pastor told me that i can call him whenever i am upset or would like to talk to him, and i will soon ask him to set me up with a spiritual director, to help me endure what i have to go through in my mental and spiritual illnesses, and also grow closer to God. if there is no one in your parish who is able to speak with you that intimately, at least spend some time talking with a priest, and see where he wants you to go from there.


3) Set up an appointment with a therapist and psychatrist—although i feel that spiritual help will benefit you the most, it is also extremely important to receive secular help as well—and to take your medication. i know exactly how you feel—since the age of twelve, i have been tossed around from medication to medication, enduring side effect after side effect, and the medicine i am currently on for my depression is an MAOI, so i’m not allowed to have certain foods, including chocolate. it’s very hard to deal with sometimes, and like you, i despise the thought of having to rely on a chemical for my emotional stability. i do believe that if God wanted to, He could correct the chemical imbalance in my brain and the mental and spiritual scars that are also reasons for my depression, but i also believe that my mental and spiritual illness is the Cross that i am meant to bear throughout my life, and so i endure the pain of the medication and its side effects. there are times when i grow so tired of being medicated, even despairing, and just want to stop them immediately. but i know what would happen if i stopped taking my medication, and for my own safety and well-being, i continue taking them. please resume taking your medication immediately. i know how painful it is, and if you’d ever like to talk or vent about it, i’m always here to listen to you and help you as much as i can. but for your own mental health, you need to take your medication. it was when i stopped taking my medication that i attempted suicide—i believe that if i had been medicated when something extremely traumatic happened to me, i would not have reacted as impusively and seriously as i did at the time. please, i’m begging you, for your safety and mental health, please return to taking your medication. if it is helping you, please don’t stop taking it. if it isn’t, definitely talk with a psychiatrist who can help you find the one that is right for you. i also recommend that you set up an appointment with a therapist, so you have someone secular to talk with and vent to as well, and a psychiatrist, so that he can stabilize your medication and explain to you why you need to continue taking it.
4) Grow closer to God—when i was harming myself, i didn’t consider myself an atheist, exactly, but i did believe with all my heart that God despised me for my ‘worthlessness’ and sexuality (i used to struggle with homosexuality and bisexuality as well), and so it didn’t matter to me if i hurt my ‘disgusting’ body, because i believed that i was going to go to Hell and suffer for all eternity regardless. (i was a very sick girl at the time, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. it is literally a miracle of God’s Love, hope and healing that i have been restored to become the person that i am today.) you are healthier than i am in that you know this to be a lie, and i’m sure you know that God loves you infinitely more than you could ever comprehend. He loves you so much, and doesn’t want you to harm yourself in any way, but to offer up your pain to Him and talk with Him about it, so He can help you, restore you and heal you in the incredible Love that literally preserved me from Hell. you are also healthier than i am in that you still have faith in God, so i definitely recommend that as you go through the healing process, you grow closer to God. here are some ways that i recommend you do this:

  • spend at least some time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, preferably much time. i know that i have experienced much healing as i’ve grown closer to Jesus in Adoration and in my own private times of prayer, for He is the Lover and Healer of our souls, and He wants so much to reach out and touch your spirit with His love and grace and mend the broken parts of your life and soul. Eucharistic Adoration is one of the best experiences that i’ve ever known, and as soon as i am able to live independently, i plan to enjoy it as often as i can.
  • enjoy frequent reception of the Sacraments, so that you can know the graces that God gives through them, and grow closer to Him, and experience His incredible Love and healing as well. frequent Confession should help with any feelings of guilt that you struggle with that may be tied to your self-harm, and there are so many graces and much healing given through the beautiful Sacrament of Love—the Eucharist. by receiving and enjoying these graces, you will grow closer to God, deeper in a relationship with Him, and experience His Love, hope and healing more fully.
  • attend Mass at least once a week, at the very least so that you don’t fall into mortal sin, which can drive one deeper into despair. i’ve found that when i avoid sin as much as possible and then offer all of myself up to God at Mass, the experience is very rewarding. the more you give of yourself at Mass, the more you will receive, and the more graces you will enjoy. i find Mass to be an amazing experience that offers me much healing, especially when it’s time for the Eucharist, and i hope and pray that it will be the same for you.

  • spend time in Bible reading/study/meditation and prayer, which is one of the quickest and easiest ways to grow closer to God. spending time in God’s Word can be extremely rewarding, especially when you set aside some quiet time to be alone with Him and simply drink in His Truth. prayer is such a beautiful privilege that offers many graces, and i have no doubt that if you ask for help in this struggle, God will grant it to you. “ask and you shall receive”—if it is God’s will that you experience His healing (which i’m sure it is—even if you are not completely healed of your depression), i know that He will grant it to you—but some things we only receive when we ask for them through prayer. i find prayer to be so rewarding, and i’ve found many resources of incredible prayers, but also try my best to spend some quiet time with personal prayer as well. if you’d like the links to the resources i’ve found, simply let me know, and i will be more than happy to give them to you.
  • spend time growing in your spiritual life. whether it’s through reading books on Catholicism, or simply talking with fellow Catholics, growing in your spiritual life is important, and as you grow closer to God, you will experience even more of His incredible Love, hope and healing in your life.
    5) Find support in as many places as possible—there is so much hope for you and for all those who are suffering, and there is so much support out there, especially online. once you find a good psychiatrist and therapist, i recommend that you find some online support just as i have, to keep me strong and safe. definitely keep coming on here whenever you need anything at all—this is an absolutely incredible resource for life and faith, everyone on here is amazing and we will always be here to support you, love you, care for you, help you and keep you in our constant thoughts and deepest prayers. i definitely recommend the forum on known as safe haven: the URL is, if you’d like to check it out. most of the people on there are atheists, etc., and have had extremely negative experiences in their past with faith, which is part of the reason why i’m on there, to attempt to bring them closer to God and His hope and healing. there are, however, some amazing Christians on safe haven as well, if you’d like me to introduce you to them. it’s an absolutely incredible resource, just like this one, and i definitely recommend it to you. if you’d like to give it a try, let me know on here if you’ve joined, and i will give you the link to my profile on safe haven.

self-injury resources: [information, alternatives + treatment] [help for self-injury] [information, alternatives, resources + a forum] [self-injury information + support] [a Christian self-injury website]

alternatives to self-injury:

bill26, i am so sorry beyond words that you are suffering so much, but i hope and pray that my post helped you, encouraged you and inspired you in at least some small way. please stay strong, please stay safe and please take care of yourself. i trust that God will help you and heal you, and bring you closer to Himself in love. please continue to take your medication, and please stay safe. we are all here to help you and support you whenever you need it, so please don’t ever be afraid to speak up if you’re struggling. please know that i am always here, and will always care, so please don’t hesitate or be afraid to contact me if you ever need anything at all.

let me take the time to pray for you now:

Loving Heavenly Father, i just lift up bill26 to You now, in the deepest hope and prayer that You would help him, heal him and bring him completely and forever to Yourself in Love, the same way that You’ve saved me, healed me from all of my afflictions and addictions and restored me so completely in the life You’ve given me. You know how much it hurts me to read of the suffering of others, especially when they are dealing with addictions that i’ve struggled with myself, and my heart is torn apart when i think of how much bill must be suffering to have to hurt himself to deal with his pain. i pray that You would deliver him completely and forever from this addiction, and help him to find healthier, more positive ways to cope when he is struggling. help him to replace taking out his pain on himself with turning to You and pouring out his heart to You so You can encourage him and strengthen him on his journey Home to You. i love You, Lord, and i completely trust that You will help bill and heal him completely. deliver him from his suffering, and strengthen him in faith, in hope and in love, and if it is Your will, strengthen him enough to no longer need his medication. but if it is Your will that he carry the cross of needing to rely on it for his mental health, teach him to rely not only on a chemical for his well-being, but forever on You. help him to grow closer to You in every way, and draw him near to Yourself in the same amazing Love and grace that You’ve shown me. i love You so much, Father, and i trust in You. help bill to trust in You for his healing as well. bless him and pour out Your Love upon him, as well as your hope and healing. restore him in Your Love, and deliver him from all that afflicts him. i pray all this in the mighty, precious Name of Jesus, Amen.

God bless you. :slight_smile:

in the peace and love of Christ,
alison :heart:


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