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self-harm

self-harm

this resource looks into the support available if you or someone you know is struggling with self-harm – ways to support yourself and guidance on reaching out for help

You are not alone. If you are feeling suicidal, help is available

Samaritans (116 123) is a 24-hour anonymous service available every day of the year. If you prefer not to speak on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal. 

Breathing Space (0800 83 85 87) is a website and phone service for anyone experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety.

NHS 24 by dialling 111 if you feel you need to speak with a medical professional.

Self-Harm Network provides free and compassionate support, resources and information about self-harm.

Content Warning: The following article discusses about suicide and could be triggering. 

If you’re going through a tough time and are having thoughts about hurting yourself, it’s important to reach out for help. Even though it might seem hard right now, there are people who care about you and ways to feel better. 

Lots of people who struggle with hurting themselves say they feel really overwhelmed by their emotions. It could be because of things like stress, bullying or other tough events going on in their lives. They most likely have suicidal thoughts as well. But with support and help, they (and you) can find better ways to cope. 

What is self-harm? 

Self-harm is when someone hurts themselves on purpose. It might sound conflicting, but it’s a way some people try to cope with strong emotions or difficult things happening in their lives. 

Self-harm can take different forms, like cutting, hitting or burning yourself. Sometimes, people do it to try and make emotional pain feel ‘less intense’, even if it’s just for a short time. But it’s important to know that hurting yourself is not a good or helpful way to deal with problems. There are other ways to get help and feel better without hurting yourself. 

What are some signs that someone might be hurting themselves? 

Changes in behaviour can be a clue that someone is struggling with hurting themselves. These might include, but are not limited to: 

  • Having unexplained cuts, bruises or burns on their body 
  • Always wearing long sleeves or trousers to cover up marks 
  • Feeling down on themselves or guilty 
  • Avoiding activities that involve exposing their body, like swimming or changing clothes in front of others 
  • Spending a lot of time alone and withdrawing from social interactions 
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness. 

What can I do if I’m engaging in self-harm?

Reach out

Even if it feels like a big challenge, try reaching out to someone you trust about what’s going on. It could be a close friend, family member or even a counsellor at school who can offer understanding and support. If sharing with someone you know feels too tough right now, you can contact one of the numbers at the top of this page.

Take a breather

You don’t have to act immediately. Take a moment to step back and focus on getting through today, one step at a time. Remember, tomorrow is a new opportunity for things to change for the better. 

Plan ahead

Think about strategies you can use when you feel the urge to hurt yourself. Maybe it’s finding activities that bring you solace, like doodling, journaling or reaching out to a trusted friend. Consider jotting down a list of people you can rely on when you need support. If you’re uncertain where to start, there are resources available to help you create a safety plan.

Find a safe space

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek out a space where you feel safe and at ease. Whether it’s your own room, a friend’s comforting space or a quiet spot outdoors, take a moment to breathe.

Recognise your triggers 

Try to pinpoint the situations, emotions or memories that trigger your self-harming urges. For example, you might find that feelings of grief or loss make you more vulnerable. Once you’re aware of your triggers, you can develop coping strategies to navigate them more effectively

Stay connected 

Even if you’re not up for a chat, spending time with friends or family can provide a sense of companionship and belonging. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you can offer comfort and support during challenging times.

What should I do if I’m worried about a friend who might be hurting themselves?

Be observant

Keep an eye out for changes in your friend’s behaviour or appearance. They might be trying to hide their injuries or avoid talking about what’s going on. Pay attention if they mention having suicidal thoughts or seem overwhelmed by depression, anxiety or even financial worries. 

Be supportive

Let your friend know that you’re there for them and that you care about them. Encourage them to talk about what they’re going through and listen without judging them. Help them set boundaries if they’re feeling overwhelmed by what’s happening.

Encourage help

Suggest that your friend talks to a trusted adult or counsellor about what’s going on. They might need professional help to deal with their feelings in a healthy way. Sometimes, having someone outside of their immediate circle to talk to can make a big difference.

Take care of yourself

Supporting a friend who’s struggling can be tough, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. Talk to someone you trust if you’re feeling overwhelmed or need support. Setting your own boundaries and seeking help when you need it is important for both you and your friend.

contact us

Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at advice@changemh.org or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.

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