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Self-harm or self-injury is when somebody damages or injures their body on purpose. Self-injury is a way of expressing deep emotional feelings or problems that build up inside.
Several other forms of behaviour can also be seen as types of self-injury. For example: misusing drugs, drinking too much alcohol, smoking too much, starving yourself or binge-eating and making yourself vomit.
Self-harm occurs at any age and is more common among females than males, often starting in adolescence (between 13 and 18 years of age), although it can affect children from as young as 11 years.
Fear of discovery, shame and embarrassment often means that people keep self-injury a secret. Because of this, it is difficult to know how many people self-harm. Some people self-harm only once or a few times while others do it on a regular basis.
Why do people self-harm? People self-injure for a variety of reasons and sometimes the person doesn't actually know why they are doing it. However, it is commonly thought to provide a release for pent-up emotions and feelings. For some people it is their way of coping with a specific problem. It can also be linked to sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
Self-harm can be a symptom of other health problems like depression, low-self-esteem, self-hatred, fear of rejection, being neglected, being isolated or separated from someone they love, or being bullied or harassed. Feelings of guilt, anxiety, loneliness, grief or anger or other deep emotional distress and feelings of numbness or emptiness or of not feeling connected to the world can also lead to self-harm.
Don't suffer in silence and don't be ashamed to seek help. Talk to your GP.
YoungMinds Crisis Messenger
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Self-harm - Self Help Guide
Northumberland Tyne & Wear NHS Trust
Self-Harm - getting help
Website dedicated to self-harm recovery, insight and support.
Support and information for people who self harm, their friends and families.
Non-judgemental support and information on wide variety of subjects including self-harm.
The Samaritans - free phone 116 123
Just having someone to talk to, who isn't family or a friend, can be a tremendous help. If you are in emotional distress, get in touch. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.