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Pete Davidson Says He Started Getting Tattoos to Cover Self-Harm Scars

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

In an interview with Charlamagne Tha God released on Monday, comedian Pete Davidson got candid about a mental health struggle he hasn’t talked about before — self-harm.

For those who aren’t familiar with self-harm (also called non-suicidal self-injury), it’s when a person causes intentional damage to their body without intending to die by suicide. People typically self-harm to get relief from intense feelings they don’t know how to cope with. Though the most commonly recognized self-harm behavior is cutting, it’s not the only type of self-harm. To learn more, check out our comprehensive self-harm recovery guide.

During the interview, Charlamagne Tha God asked Davidson how he typically knew it was time to seek help for his mental health, to which the SNL star replied:

Usually when I start like cutting, or like when shit gets just like a little insurmountable or… my friends will tell me now. We’re at a point where like people will come over and be like… ‘Hey. We’re all like worried, so you should go [get help]. I’ve got a good group around me. They give a fuck.

Davidson shared he started getting tattoos to cover up his self-harm scars, a common part of recovery for many people who struggle with self-harm. He also shared that in the past he turned to self-harm because it felt like the only way to release the painful feelings he experienced.

Since entering mental health treatment over the last few years, he’s learned alternative ways to cope:

Now, you go to rehab, you learn like, ‘Oh! You could take a cold shower, you could work out, you could listen to music really loud… you could go on the Calm App, you could call a friend, you could wait five minutes.’ There’s just, you know, so much shit you learn.

The techniques he mentioned are common distress tolerance skills found in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a treatment designed for people who struggle with regulating their emotions, including those with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and folks who self-harm.

Davidson himself lives with BPD, something he’s been open about in the past. It’s worth noting that self-harm is actually one of the nine classic symptoms of BPD.

“I have to get my meds readjusted all the time because I have like in-between bipolar and borderline and like PTSD and shit from my childhood,” he told Charlamagne Tha God on Monday’s interview. “I don’t think going to rehab is that big of a deal. I think it’s a strong powerful thing and some of the most beautiful, cool people you’ll ever meet are there.”

If you struggle with self-harm, emotional regulation or BPD, you’re not alone. Thank you Pete Davidson, for bravely opening up about your mental health struggles and giving hope to the mental health community.

Originally published: February 25, 2020
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