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What is Self-Harm?

Self-harm is when someone chooses to inflict pain on themselves in some way. It is a sign of distress and can take many forms. Often self-harm is someone's way of coping with feelings and is a sign that something is wrong. Self-harm can be dangerous, and it is a sign that there is an underlying problem, therefore you should get help.

It is important to realise that self-harm is not the same as suicide, with self-harm there is not always an intention to end life like in suicide. The intention is more often to punish themselves, express their distress or relieve unbearable tension. Sometimes the reason is a mixture of both. Although the intention may not be to end life when self-harming, it is important to still get help.

Treatment for people who self-harm usually involves seeing a therapist to discuss your thoughts and feelings, and how these affect your behaviour and wellbeing. They can also teach you coping strategies to help prevent further episodes of self-harm. If you're badly depressed, it could also involve taking antidepressants or other medication.

Who can help?

If you're self-harming, you should see your GP for help. They can refer you to healthcare professionals at a local community mental health service for further assessment. This assessment will result in your care team working out a treatment plan with you to help with your distress.

Below are some organisations that give more information on ways to cope with self-harm, you can also speak to your GP for further support.

There are organisations that offer support and advice for people who self-harm, as well as their friends and families. These include:


Mental health challenges are common but help is available and with the right support many people recover completely. Check out our Who Can Help Page for lots of services who are local and national!


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