“Self-harm is a way of dealing with very difficult feelings that build up inside. People deal with these feelings in various ways” Young Minds


What is self-harm?

Some of the ways in which people self-harm include:

  • cutting or burning themselves
  • hitting or biting themselves
  • hitting walls or other hard objects
  • pulling out their hair
  • taking overdoses.


Why do people self-harm?

Young people often can’t explain or figure out why they self-harm. The reasons can be very complicated.

Many people who self-harm see their behaviour as a way of surviving. They may be able to cope better with physical pain than with terrible emotional pain.

Some reasons may include: (tick any that may apply to you)

  • to manage mood or feelings
  • for a sense of release
  • to escape feeling numb
  • to feel in control
  • to escape feelings of guilt
  • to let people know how bad things are
  • to make their body show their pain
  • to distract themselves from emotional pain
  • to punish themselves because they feel they are bad.


Things you can do to help yourself

To stop self-harming can be difficult.  As we are all unique, what works for one person may not work for someone else. There are different ideas that people can try to see what works best for them.

Focusing on the feelings that lead to self-harm is important in understanding it. By finding out what makes you feel a certain way (e.g. happy, sad, angry) you can start to think of other ways of dealing with these situations and feelings

Keeping a regular diary can be helpful in gaining a better understanding of self- harm


Some helpful short term solutions:

  • spend time with friends and family
  • delay:
    • try to delay the act in any way you can
    • say to yourself that you will wait 10 minutes before you self-harm
    • after this time think again - can you wait another 10 minutes?
  • exercise
  • cry
  • distract yourself – for example draw a picture or read a book
  • make a lot of noise – play a musical instrument, go in the garden and scream
  • sleep
  • write down a list of at least 10 things that you are good at.


Before you self-harm, ask yourself the following questions:

  • why do I feel the need to hurt myself?
  • what has brought me to this point?
  • what have I done to ease the feelings so far?
  • how do I feel right now?
  • how will I feel when I’m hurting myself?
  • have I been here before? How did I deal with it?
  • how will I feel after hurting myself?
  • how can I avoid the thing that is making me feel bad or deal with it differently in the future?
  • do I need to hurt myself?


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