What is self-harm?
Self-harm is a way of dealing with very difficult feelings that build up inside. Young people often say that it is a coping skill for them. Although there is a myth that it is done for attention, in most instances, it is not done for attention. Young people are also often clear that they want to harm themselves and not kill themselves. However, there is a proportion of young people presenting with self harm who also are feeling suicidal.
Young people harm themselves in various ways
Cutting or burning themselves, bruising themselves, taking an overdose of tablets, pulling hair or picking skin.
Some people think that the seriousness of the problem can be measured by how bad the injury is. This is not the case – a person who hurts themselves a bit can be feeling just as bad as someone who hurts themselves a lot.
Self-harm can affect anyone. It is a lot more common than people think. Many people hurt themselves secretly for a long time before finding the courage to tell someone.
Why do people do it?
Everyone has problems in their lives, but sometimes young people find the problems unmanageable and very strong feelings are stirred up in them that they cannot cope with or put into words and this can create a pressure that can feel like an explosion. This is the point where some young people harm themselves.
What are the triggers?
Self harm is often associated with triggers such as bulleying; problems with friends or relationships; pressure to fit in; school pressure; abuse; bereavement; family problems; low self esteem and confidence; mood swings; problems to do with who you are in terms of race, religion or sexuality
People harm themselves because of strong feelings that they feel inside themselves, such as:
- Feeling depressed or lonely
- Feeling rejected
- Feeling humiliated
- Feeling like a failure
- Feeling angry
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling ashamed
- Feeling helpless
What can you do when you feel like that?
First of all, you are not alone. You are not a freak or mad. You are a brave young person who have been coping with many difficult feelings and I am proud of you. It is important to realise that your feelings are important and you deserve to be taken seriously. Talk to someone you trust or ask for help. I will provide a few links to sources of help. You are also more than welcome to come and have a chat with me. My details are on my website.
When you discover your child is harming him/herself
- Don’t panic
- Don’t get angry
- Don’t ignore it
- Listen & understand
- Provide safety & security
Useful addresses and telephone numbers
Project dedicated to supporting young people affected byself harm, providing a safe space to talk, ask questions, access information and ask for help.
Free 24/7 helpline for children and young people
Helpline: 0800 11 11
Textphone: 0800 400 222
Helpline: 08457 909 090
For people under 19 years. Confidential and anonymous email and telephone helpline support run by young volunteers.
Helpline: 02088 963 675
Email and online chat via website Monday and Wednesday 6:30 – 9:30 at