Mental health and self-harm (2/2)


Self-harming is when a person deliberately hurts themselves as a way of coping with problems. People who self-harm might cut themselves with blades or scissors (the most common form of self-harming), pull their own hair, strike themselves with their fists or objects, burn themselves with hot water or hot object, or use other ways to hurt themselves.

People who self-harm often do it as a way of coping with intense and difficult feelings. A person might self-harm for a short period of time while they’re experiencing particular difficulties, while others may do it for years. Self-harm is usually a very private activity, so it’s hard to know if someone is doing it. Gay, bisexual, and transgender, people aged between 15 and 25, and those with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, are considered to be higher risk groups.

Low self-esteem (not liking yourself very much), distress over sexuality, and pressures at home or in school can all be triggers for self-harm.

A person might self-harm when they experience very intense feelings that they find hard to cope with or don't know how to manage. By hurting themselves they bring about a feeling of relief and calm so that life feels a little easier to deal with for a while; it's a way of letting off emotional steam. Self-harm can be a way of giving voice to emotional pain and gaining a sense of control over it. If a person if very depressed they may feel quite detached and numb. They may use self-harm as a way to feel more connected and alive. Self-harm can also be an expression of anger that a person has toward themselves. They may be punishing themselves for, in their eyes, 'messing something up' or being a bad person.

Self-harm and suicide are different things, and not everyone who self-harms intends to harm themselves severely or kill themselves.

Overcoming self-harm

For more support, see the mental health links page.



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