Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, painful memories or overwhelming situations and experiences. Some people have described self-harm as a way to:

  • express something that is hard to put into words
  • turn invisible thoughts or feelings into something visible
  • change emotional pain into physical pain
    • distraction from emotional pain
  • reduce overwhelming emotional feelings or thoughts
  • have a sense of being in control
  • escape traumatic memories
  • have something in life that they can rely on
  • punish yourself for your feelings and experiences
  • stop feeling numb, disconnected or dissociated (see dissociative disorders)
  • create a reason to physically care for themselves

Ways of self-harming can include:

  • cutting yourself
  • poisoning yourself
  • picking or scratching at your skin
  • burning your skin
  • hitting yourself or walls
  • pulling your hair

Tips for dealing with Self-harm:

  • Understand why they self harm: they don’t know how to deal with the flooding of emotions, they self harm because that distracts them from what they were thinking about. And the brain releases endorphins when it gets pain and that “high” becomes addictive.
  • Take a rubber band and flick it on your wrist (if you’re cutting on the wrist)
  • If you know someone who is self harming, remove sharp objects, acknowledge that you know what is going on, acknowledge that they’re in pain and need help, give them a chance to talk about what is going on for them