Self Harm

What You Should Know
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What Is Self Harm?

Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, painful memories or overwhelming situations and experiences that feel out of control. It can be the thing people turn to when they feel they have no other option.

Why Do People Self Harm

Some people have described self-harm as a way to:

  • express something that is hard to put into words
  • turn invisible thoughts or feelings into something visible
  • change emotional pain into physical pain
  • reduce overwhelming emotional feelings or thoughts
  • have a sense of being in control
  • escape traumatic memories
  • have something in life that they can rely on
  • punish yourself for your feelings and experiences
  • stop feeling numb, disconnected or dissociated
  • create a reason to physically care for themselves
  • express suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking their own life.
Self-harm proved to me I was real, I was alive. At times it also silenced the chaos in my head, briefly pausing the repetitive flashbacks and body memories.

Even though there are always reasons underneath someone hurting themselves, it is important to know that self-harm does carry risks. Once you have started to depend on self-harm, it can take a long time to stop.

How Do People Self-Harm?

There are lots of different forms of self-harming. Some people use the same one all the time, other people hurt themselves in different ways at different times.


It can be upsetting and potentially triggering to read information about how to self-harm.

If you are feeling vulnerable at the moment, you might not want to read the following section.

Ways of self-harming can include:

  • cutting yourself
  • poisoning yourself
  • over-eating or under-eating
  • biting yourself
  • picking or scratching at your skin
  • burning your skin
  • inserting objects into your body
  • hitting yourself or walls
  • overdosing
  • exercising excessively
  • pulling your hair
  • getting into fights where you know you will get hurt.
How Can I Help Myself Now?

During intense urges to hurt yourself, it can be hard to imagine that it’s possible to do anything else.

But there are steps you can take to help you make other choices over time:

  • Understanding your patterns of self-harm.
  • Distracting yourself from the urge to self-harm.
  • Delaying self-harm.

I’ve learnt that you can’t rely on other people or things to save you from self-harm – it has to come from you.

Find Out More

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