Self Harm

Trigger warning: this section contains information that some people may find upsetting.

Self Harm is when somebody deliberately injures themselves. Self harm is not intended to result in death.

People self harm for very individual reasons; what they do have in common is that they are often experiencing intense emotional distress. They may have had very upsetting experiences.  Self harm is used as a way of coping with these feelings and issues.

Self harm is more common in teenagers but can affect both men and women of all ages.

There are lots of different ways people may self harm. Some of these include:

  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Punching yourself
  • Hair pulling
  • Taking overdoses
  • Alcohol/drug abuse

It is possible for people to stop self harming but can be very difficult. Some people do want to stop and some people do not want to stop self harming. Both are okay. There are things people can do to help them to stop self harming or to continue self harming but do it more safely. This is sometimes called harm reduction.

  • Using clean blades
  • Learning some basic first aid
  • Having a well stocked first aid kit
  • Seeking attention for your wounds
  • Learning about which parts of the body are ‘safer’ to harm (i.e. how to avoid arteries and nerves)
  • Using a red pen to mark on the body where you would like to hurt yourself
  • Drawing or writing about your feelings
  • Squeezing ice cubes in your hand
  • Snapping an elastic band on your wrist
  • Talking about your feelings
  • Calling a helpline like Childline, Samaritans or Breathing Space.
  • The 5 minute rule – delaying harming yourself for 5 minutes at a time.

If you or someone you know is self harming and wants support contact your GP.

You may also find these websites useful:

For parents and professionals:

A self harm protocol is being launched in September 2015

A one day Self Harm Awareness Training is run several times a year - get in touch for the latest dates. A brief awareness session can also be arranged for staff groups on request - get in touch for more information.