Advice and support about self-harming

Information on what you can do if you or someone you know is self-harming.

Why do people self-harm?: 

Self-harming is when someone intentionally injures their body. It is usually a way for them to cope with or express emotional distress.

For many people self-harming is a way of punishing themselves and is often a cry for help. It is done for a number of reasons. 

These reasons can include; feelings of anger or self-hatred, frustration at being bullied or deeper mental health issues. Often they want to keep it a secret as they feel ashamed, whilst others want people to know

How you can help someone who is self-harming: 

  • Be a good listener. Give the person space and time to speak, without judgement or jumping to conclusions.
  • Don’t panic that you don’t know what to do. Just being there to talk to them will help. A problem shared is often a problem halved!
  • Help them find a way to work out their feelings.
  • Find out what organisations are out there to support them and to support you.
  • Don’t expect things to get sorted out quickly. Self harm is a way of coping with underlying problems that can take time to be worked through.
  • Don’t keep it bottled up. If you’re feeling overwhelmed you need support too.

They may tell you that they are self harming and ask for you to keep it a secret. If it looks like their life is in danger it is important to get help as soon as possible. Try to let them know that you had to tell someone and why.

I’m self-harming, what help is there for me?: 

If you are self-harming yourself there are a number of things you can do to help yourself:

  • Ask yourself why you self-harm. It is easier to stop if you know why you are doing it in the first place. You may be able to work this out yourself but talking to someone who is trained to help is even better.
  • Think about what helps you feel better when you are upset. For some people it’s good to be with a friend they trust. Other people like doing something they enjoy like listening to music. Try to do these things instead of hurting yourself.
  • Think about getting help. If you feel like you just can’t stop hurting yourself then you probably need to talk to someone. If there isn’t anyone you know that you trust then you could try talking to one of the organisations listed below. They have trained advisors who can help you.

Worried about talking to a doctor about your self-harm? Find out what happens when you visit your GP:

More help and information: 

Remember that if you are self-harming you are not alone and that there are lots of people out there going through similar problems.

ChildLine- If you really can't think of anyone you trust to talk to then try calling ChildLine on 0800 1111 advisors are there to speak to you 24 hrs a day.

Breathing Space- Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line that anyone in Scotland can call when they are feeling low or depressed. The phone line is free from landlines and some mobiles, it's confidential and is available to the public every day. Call: 0800 83 85 87 (Monday to Thursday 6pm - 2am and Friday 6pm to Monday 6am).

Harmless- Harmless provide support and information to people who self-harm and their families and friends. There's lots of information on their website.