Where to get help

When you get the urge to self-harm, take a moment and try to:

  • keep a journal
  • be kind to yourself
  • get a good night's sleep
  • drink water and eat well
  • go for a walk or do some gentle exercise
  • play music, sing or dance
  • hold an ice cube
  • punch a pillow or cushion
  • tear up newspaper or magazines
  • text a friend for help

If you feel that things are getting out of hand, talk to a trusted person or seek professional help:

Resources for young people:

If you feel your situation is getting out of control, talk to your GP

Self-harm is a harmful way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration.

Self-harm may bring brief feelings of calm and a release, but it's usually followed by guilt and shame and the return of painful emotions. Although life-threatening injuries are usually not meant, self-harm can be more serious and even fatal. 

Self-harm can be:

  • cutting, scratching or biting
  • burning or scalding
  • sticking sharp objects into your body
  • not letting wounds heal
  • knocking or banging
  • drinking alcohol
  • taking drugs
  • overdose on tablets
  • over or under eating
  • eating or drinking poisonous things
  • risky or dangerous behaviour

While self-harm is more common in young people who live with depression and anxiety, it does affect adults without a mental health problem too.

Talking about self-harm

Reasons to self-harm

There are many reasons why you might self-harm. It is usually a symptom that something stressful or upsetting is going on in your life that is difficult to deal with. The reasons to self-harm may change overtime. You are more likely to self-harm if you:

  • have a mental health issue such as:
    • depression
    • anxiety
    • borderline personality disorder
    • an eating disorder
  • have a substance abuse issue
  • are female
  • are a young person
  • are in prison
  • are an asylum seeker
  • are a veteran of the armed forces
  • are gay, lesbian or bisexual
  • have lost a loved one through suicide
  • are a survivor of physical, emotional or sexual abuse as a child or as an adult