Self-harm, or self-injury as it is sometimes referred to, is a behaviour in which somebody hurts or injures themselves as a way of coping with intensely distressing feelings. People self-harm for lots of reasons, which will be unique and individual for each person.

Most commonly it involves cutting or burning themselves, however some people may deliberately harm themselves in less obvious ways, like regularly drinking to excess or taking dangerous risks with their health.

Some people have described self-harm as:

  • A way of expressing something that is difficult to put into words
  • Change emotional pain into physical pain
  • Sense of being in control
  • As a way of escaping traumatic thoughts and memories
  • Self-punishment
  • A sense of release and relief
  • A way of expressing suicidal thoughts and feelings

Some people think that self-harm is done calmly and deliberately and is a way of attention seeking. However this is not necessarily the case as self-harm for some can be a coping mechanism; a way of managing their distress whether that be physical or psychological.

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