- Self-harm is a way of dealing with painful feelings, it isn’t attention seeking.
- Hurting yourself can take many forms and isn’t always visible.
- Self-harm only provides temporary relief, seeking help can address the underlying issue in a less destructive way.
Self-harm or self-injury is when you inflict damage on yourself on purpose. Self-harming can be difficult to understand and talk about, other people may not always understand either. People who harm themselves are not stupid, selfish, crazy or attention-seekers. They are people who take things out on their bodies, rather than sounding off about things as other people might.
Why people self-harm?
People self harm for a whole host of different reasons, it’s a way of coping with different negative feelings, memories or feeling overwhelmed. People who hurt themselves may do so for reasons such as:
- Expressing something painful that they can’t verbalise.
- To escape traumatic memories or current situations.
- Giving them a sense of control or something that they can rely on.
- They feel like they deserve to be punished for feelings or experiences.
- To stop a feeling of numbness or to ground them in the here-and-now.
- To relieve tension.
- Expressing suicidal thoughts without ending their life.
Self-harm is not necessarily about trying to kill yourself, it’s often a way to deal with things to avoid feeling suicidal. Although those who do self-harm are significantly more at risk of suicide than the average person. People may be expressing a want for help because they feel they have nowhere else to go.
You can find more about getting help for self-harm here. If you are thinking about self-harming or are worried about something you have done, your GP can help.
Where can I find help?
- Talk to CALM from 5pm to midnight everyday. Our professional helpline workers are there to talk and to help you find ways to move forward. Calls and webchats are free, anonymous, non-judgemental and confidential.
- Outside of these hours, call the Samaritans on 116 123.
- Contact your GP for an appointment (which might be done over the phone or by video – during covid19).
- Self-refer yourself to NHS Psychological Therapies here
- Find more support at https://selfharm.co.uk/
- If you concerned about an injury, you can call NHS 111 services, contact your GP or in serious cases call 999.
Dealing with self-harm
Hurting yourself comes with serious health risks on top of the distress that you may be feeling. There are alternatives to try to minimise risk from physical damage, they’re not totally risk free either but may help in the moment. For instance;
- Using a red pen to mark on your skin where you might want to hurt yourself
- Punch a pillow, grab it and scream into it
- Rub an ice-cube on your skin or hold it under your arms or legs
- Flick an elastic band against yourself
- Have a cold shower or bath
If you’re feeling like this, resisting the urge to hurt yourself won’t be easy. You will need to have made a conscious choice but that will show you that you have made that decision.
Talking about self-harm
It can be difficult to talk about self-harm with your friends, family or a medical professional. Here’s some ways you can start a conversation around how you’re feeling:
“I need to talk to you about how I’m feeling. Things are tough, and I have been thinking about hurting myself. Right now, I don’t need you to find a solution, I just want to share how I feel”
“I need to talk – I’ve been struggling and hurting myself because of it.”
“I’ve been hurting myself to cope with my feelings, it makes me feel… .”