Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It’s usually a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress. Self-harm happens when you hurt or harm yourself. You may:
- take too many tablets – an overdose
- cut yourself
- burn yourself
- bang your head or throw yourself against something hard
- punch yourself
- stick things in your body
- swallow things.
It can feel to other people that these things are done calmly and deliberately – almost cynically. But we know that someone who self-harms is 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, but others do it regularly – it can be hard to stop.
Some of us harm ourselves in less obvious, but still serious ways. We may behave in ways that suggest we don’t care whether we live or die – we may take drugs recklessly, have unsafe sex, or binge drink. Some people simply starve themselves. Self-harm can also be a cry for help.
How common is self-harm?
- ·About 1 in 10 young people will self-harm at some point, but it can happen at any age.
- The research probably under-estimates how common self-harm is. It is usually based on surveys of people who go to hospital or their GP after harming themselves. However, we know that a lot of people do not seek help after self-harm. Some types of self-harm, like cutting, may be more secret and so less likely to be noticed.
- In a study of over 4000 self-harming adults in hospital, 80% had overdosed and around 15% had cut themselves. In the community, it is likely that cutting is a more common way of self-harming than taking an overdose.
How can we help?
You will first need an assessment with one of our therapists. You will have an opportunity to talk about your difficulties and what situation you are facing and decide what best suits your needs via the telephone or in person.
To speak to someone in confidence for advice or to arrange an appointment please contact our team on Freephone 0800 230 0688
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