Self Harm

Self-harm is a broad term to describe behaviour when someone deliberately hurts themselves as a way of dealing with their emotions, it is not self-inflicted harm as part a cultural or religious ritual or for pleasure.

Self-harm can be inflicted in many ways, including:

  • Cutting or scratching themselves
  • Burning or scalding themselves
  • Bruising caused by hitting or punching themselves, or throwing themselves against solid objects – such as a wall.
  • Banging their head against something hard
  • Inserting objects in to the body – such as needles, staples etc.
  • Hair pulling (also known as trichotillomania)
  • Repeatedly picking at the skin until it bleeds
  • Self-poisoning by swallowing harmful chemicals or inanimate objects such as cutlery and batteries
  • Taking overdoses of tablets or medication
  • Breaking bones
  • Interfering with wounds
  • Eating disorders

This is by no means an exhaustive list and some would include risk taking lifestyles such as unprotected sex and illicit drug use as forms of self-harm

It can feel to others who are not involved in the harming behaviour that these things are done calmly and deliberately – almost cynically. However people who self-harm are usually in a state of high emotion, distress and unbearable inner turmoil. Some people plan it in advance, for others, it happens on the spur of the moment. Some people self-harm only once or twice whilst other people will do it regularly – it can be hard to stop.