What is Self Harm?

Self-harm can be really hard to understand but it is a lot more common than some people think. Between one in 12 and 1 in 15 people self-harm.

Self-harming is when a young person chooses to inflict pain on themselves in some way. If you are self-harming, you may be cutting or burning yourself, biting your nails excessively, developing an eating disorder or taking an overdose of tablets. It can also include taking drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol. It is usually a sign that something is wrong.

You may self-harm if you are feeling anxious, depressed or stressed or if you are being bullied and feel that you do not have a support network or way to deal with your problems. The issues then ‘build up’ to the point where you feel like you are going to explode. Young people who self-harm often talk about the ‘release’ that they feel after they have self-harmed, as they use it as a mechanism to cope with their problems.

You may self-harm to relieve tension, to try and gain control of the issues that may be concerning you or to punish yourself. Sometimes in severe cases it is an attempt to commit suicide if the problems are very severe.

Research has shown that young women are the group who are most likely to self-harm although the percentage of young men who self-harm is on the increase. It found 10 per cent of 15-16 year olds have self-harmed and 25,000 children and young people are admitted to hospital each year due to the severity of their injuries and so, if you are self-harming, you are not alone and there is help available.

Often people who self-harm are doing so because they are experiencing a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety or have numerous problems so getting help to deal with some of these underlying issues is often key to overcoming or managing self-harm.

Self-harming is very dangerous. It is a definite sign that you have an underlying problem, but if it got out of hand, you could risk killing yourself, maybe accidentally.

You need to get help as soon as possible. The next section has more information about getting help.

“I think control’s a big thing. You can’t control what’s happening around you, but you can control what you do to yourself.”