What is self-harm?

Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, old memories, or overwhelming situations and experiences. The ways you hurt yourself can be physical, such as cutting yourself. They can also be less obvious, such as putting yourself in risky situations, or not looking after your own physical or emotional needs. Ways of self-harming can include:

  • cutting yourself
  • poisoning yourself
  • over-eating or under-eating
  • burning your skin
  • inserting objects into your body
  • hitting yourself or walls
  • overdosing
  • exercising excessively
  • scratching and hair

After self-harming, you might feel better and more able to cope for a while. However, self-harm can bring up very difficult feelings and could make you feel worse.

If you self-harm, you may feel embarrassed or ashamed about it. You might be worried that other people will judge you or pressurise you to stop if you tell them about it. This may mean that you keep your self-harming a secret. This is a very common reaction, although not everyone does this.

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