Trigger Warning - some of the content below may trigger some unpleasant emotions.
What is self-harm?
Self-harm is when someone deliberately injures their body.
This could be:
- Cutting or burning the skin
- Punching or hitting
- Poisoning with tablets or dangerous substances
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Starving and/or over eating
Why do people self-harm?
People can self-harm for many different reasons, including:
- Difficulties at school
- Problems at home
- Being a victim of abuse
- Low self-esteem
- Or other emotional difficulties
Myths about self-harm:
- Self-harm is just attention seeking - This is FALSE, self-harm is usually kept secret and hidden.
- Only teenage girls self-harm - This is FALSE, it is becoming more common for older people and males to self-harm.
- If you self-harm you want to end your life - This is FALSE, many people who self-harm do not want to end their life. Self-harm is a way of coping with the emotional pain they are feeling.
Self-harm is a way of coping with emotional distress, however it is only a temporary relief and it won't stop the negative emotions from coming back.
The Young Minds video above, called ‘No Harm Done’, tells of young people, parents and professionals experiences about the difficulties of dealing with self-harm.
Spotting the signs of self-harm in a friend
- Unexplained cuts or burns
- Keeping covered even in hot weather
- Changes in eating habits and weight
- Blaming themselves for problems
- Thinking they are not good enough
- Alcohol or drug abuse
If you think your friend might be self-harming, there are ways you can support them.
The following resources may help:
- I feel like hurting myself Z Card
- LifeSIGNS website - Self-harm factsheet for friends.
- Young Minds website - 5 tips to help your friend, and read their 'Tell someone' leaflet if you or someone you know are self-harming.
- Childline website - Have useful information about coping techniques. Visit childline.org.uk/self-harm
Help and support
If you're using self-harm as a way to deal with your feelings, it's important that you talk to someone and seek help. The below services can help support you:
- Call 111 Option 2 NHS Mental Health Crisis Line. 24/7 helpline for anyone of any age. (replaces First Response helpline)
- Emotional Wellbeing Hub - Provides support and advice if you're worried about you or a friend's emotional wellbeing. (For young people living in East and West Suffolk)
- Just One Norfolk - Mental health support services for young people in Lowestoft and Waveney.
- ChatHealth Service - Lets you speak to a school nurse for support and advice on any health concern.
- Kooth - Is a free, safe and confidential online service where you can find someone to talk to when you need it.
- 4YP in Ipswich - Offer a drop-in service for young people to come and chat to a youth worker about any social, emotional, physical health and wellbeing issues.
- Visit your GP - You can go to your GP for help at any age. Anything you talk about is confidential and will be kept between you and your doctor.
Self-harm Support Group in Ipswich, for under 25s - Run weekly on Friday's, from 7pm until 8.30pm, at Teenage Mental Health based at 31 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AQ.
This is a free support group to allow you to talk to like minded people, and receive support from therapists employed by Teenage Mental Health.
For more details call: 01473 411324 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also find more useful advice on their website TeenageMentalHealth.co.uk
- ChildLine - Free 24/7 support. Call 0800 1111
- YoungMinds Crisis Text Messenger Service - For urgent support and help text YM on 85258.
- Alumina (Self Harm UK)- Provides a free, online 6 week course for young people struggling with self-harm (if you are 14 or older), a couple of nights per week by trained counsellors.
You may like to look at some digital apps like Calm Harm on our 'If the App Fits' page.
(Note - Apps may be able to support your recovery and your emotional well being, although they're no substitute for professional help).