People self-harm in different ways and for different reasons.

Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, old memories, or overwhelming situations and experiences.

The ways you hurt yourself can be physical, such as cutting yourself. They can also be less obvious, such as putting yourself in risky situations, or not looking after your own physical or emotional needs.

After self-harming you might feel better and more able to cope for a while. However, self-harm can bring up very difficult feelings and could make you feel worse. 

There are no fixed rules about why people self-harm. For some, it can be linked to specific experiences, and be a way of dealing with something that is happening now or that happened in the past. For others, it is less clear. If you don’t know the reasons for your self-harm, it’s important to remind yourself that this is OK, and you don’t need to know this in order to ask for help. 

Any difficult experience can cause someone to self-harm. Some people have described it as a way to express something that is hard to put into words, or make experiences, thoughts or feelings that feel invisible into something visible. 

If you are thinking about stopping or reducing your self-harm, finding ways of helping yourself can feel very empowering. You might believe that it is impossible to stop if you have been doing it for a long while. This isn’t true. It can take time, effort and determination to stop, but lots of people have managed to do it. 

You might find that you need to try a few different things to find what works for you, and combine self-help techniques with professional support.

Understanding Self Harm

​Advice for anyone who self-harms, and their friends and family.

Self-harm information for parents and carers

Finding out that the young person in your life is self-harming as a coping strategy can be alarming and hard to understand, so this short guide aims to tell you a little bit about what self-harm is, and how you can help.

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