Self-harm, also known as (NSSI) non-suicidal self-injury, is when a person hurts themselves on purpose without the intent to die. People may self-harm for various reasons, such as to relieve emotional pain, feel a sense of control, or escape from traumatic memories.
Self-harm can take many forms, including cutting, burning, scratching, and hitting oneself. While self-harm may provide temporary relief, it does not address the underlying issues.
Impact on Life
After self-harming one may feel a short-term sense of relief, but the cause of your distress is unlikely to have gone away.
Self-harm can also bring up very difficult emotions and could make you feel worse leading to a cycle of shame, guilt, and further emotional distress.
It can also be a risk factor for suicide, as individuals who self-harm are at a higher risk of attempting suicide if they do not receive help.
Self-harm is often kept private due to stigmas around mental health topics. It is essential to understand that self-harm is a sign of emotional distress and should be taken seriously.
It takes courage to ask for support. Understandably, one may have concerns that they won’t be understood or that they will be pressured to make changes faster than they want to. However, it is important to seek help from a mental healthcare provider if you or someone you know is self-harming.
Treatment and support are available to help address the underlying issues and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Treatment options can include counselling or therapy, partial inpatient, or inpatient hospitalization, depending on the severity of the behaviour.
Developing healthy coping strategies, building a support network, and learning to manage overwhelming emotions are essential parts of managing self-harm.
There are different types of crisis support available depending on what you need. You could:
- call 999 or go to your local A&E if you’ve tried to hurt yourself
- Make an emergency appointment with your doctor or call 111 for advice if you’re not in immediate danger
- contact your local crisis team if a community mental health team is already supporting you