Self-help for Self-harm

Self-harm is an umbrella term for any behaviour, action or habit, which can cause damage to your health. This can include cutting, but also includes overeating, taking drugs, smoking and drinking too much alcohol. It’s a wide area that covers a whole range of actions.

Self-injury is the term used to describe deliberate acts of hurting yourself – so this may be cutting, burning, head banging, pulling out your own hair etc.

Self-harming behaviour includes acts that cause short and long-term damage e.g. over/under eating, drug abuse, binge drinking, smoking and other things that may impact on your life later on. The biggest difference is that self-harm is seen as being more socially acceptable – it’s easier to talk about your smoking habit or difficulties losing weight than it is to talk about cutting or injuring yourself. The term self-harm is more widely used than self-injury – it doesn’t matter which one you use as long as you are being understood. (see, also

One in ten young people in the UK self-harm. So if this is you, you’re not alone – and help is available.

Questions to ask yourself when you’re at the point of self-harming:

  1. Why do I feel I need to hurt myself? What has happened to make me feel like this?
  2. Have I felt like this before? What did I do to deal with it? How did my feelings change?
  3. What have I have done to make myself feel better already? What else can I do that won’t hurt me?
  4. How am I feeling right now?
  5. How will I feel when I am self-harming?
  6. How will I feel after hurting myself? How will I feel tomorrow morning?
  7. Can I avoid this, or deal with it better in the future?
  8. Do I need to hurt myself?

Questions to think about in terms of recovery:

  1. Do I want to stop?
  2. Do I have friends, family, and/or professionals that I can use if I feel like hurting myself?
  3. Are there at least two people I can call if I want to hurt myself?
  4. What else can I do instead of hurting myself? (see here for some examples)
  5. Have I stopped myself from self-harming in the past? If so, what has helped?
  6. Can I think of a place to go if I need to leave the house so as not to hurt myself?
  7. Can I get rid of the things you hurt yourself with?
  8. Can I tell someone else that I want to stop self-harming?

If you’re ready to stop, you’ll feel scared and angry and frustrated when you don’t self-harm. That’s why you’ll need people and strategies to help support you.

Here’s some places that can help: – Information and advice with list of support groups across the UK.

National Self Harm Network: 0800 622 6000

(For sources: see above)




9 thoughts on “Self-help for Self-harm

  1. Reading this whilst desperately wanting to hurt myself. Why don’t those questions help? Where is God? Why don’t I believe? I deserve to be punished.

  2. I’m so sorry you’re struggling with this now – and that there are no answers or solutions to make it better.

    You don’t deserve to be punished. And you’re not on your own in feeling this way. if it would help to chat anonymously, then feel free to email. But what’s happening here is this: you’ve learnt ways of coping that have become patterns which are hard to break. Not impossible, but hard. They’re not good ways of coping, but they’re just that – ways of coping. You are not your self-harm. YOU are not bad. The very opposite. There is a way forward and there is hope – even though it’s right now, it is really, really difficult.

    Are there people around you who know how you’re feeling or could support you?

  3. Emma, great post as always – really helpful.

    Dear Anon – I’m also so sorry you’re going through this. It’s so hard to deal with, and I’m hoping you will be able to find ways to deal with this tonight. I think what Emma said is really helpful – you aren’t your self-harm. You aren’t bad. I have no idea if this will help to know, but I’ve struggled with self harm for a while too. It can sometimes seem that there is no way out – but that’s the self harm talking, it isn’t the reality, I promise.

  4. number 6 on the first set of questions is key to me. Because self harm is horribly seductive – it seems as if it’s what you need to release the pressure, but it makes you feel so awful afterward.

  5. Anon

    Thanks for your email: for some reason when I try to reply it comes back as undeliverable: I think this happened before too (is there another address I can write to?)

    Please don’t apologise- there’s nothing for you to apologise for. The very opposite! The point of the blog is to be real about our struggles, which is exactly what you’ve done.

    What you wrote is the truth -self-harm IS overwhelming and upsetting – and it’s ok to say so. In fact, (for me anyway), when I say how I feel it’s the best way of fighting the behaviours I hate so much – whether disordered eating or ocd or self-harm or shopping or whatever. Speaking the truth is a positive thing and brave too. Instead of beating up on yourself, you’re actually fighting back. That’s a big deal.

    God is there and He doesn’t hate you. He loves you with an unshakeable, unquenchable love. And I know – I really know – that’s hard to hear and hard to take in. I struggle to believe it for myself. But He is real and He loves us. He brings hope into even the dark places we don’t want to go. And nomatter how long you or I have been struggling, or what we’ve done, He can bring us through. I’d stake everything on it sister: and I don’t say that lightly.

    Feel free to email again – sorry I haven’t been able to reply to your address.

  6. Self harm is addictive. But it is so much more acceptable to smoke a pack of ciggarettes a day or drink a bottle of wine at the end of the day. Cut and burn and that’s just wrong, it’s so wrong no-one who doesn’t do it is able to understand. It’s nearly been a year since I was made to stop and I still want to do it – just once more…. Feel that rush once more. Pretending to cope and having said the same thing over and over and over people don’t want to hear it anymore. They don’t want to listen or take your threats seriously because they know what you will and won’t do.

  7. That’s a good point: we self-harm in different ways, but some forms are more acceptable than others.

  8. its not just young people who self harm. i really feel the need to make this point, cos everywhere there is help for young people, advice for young people, places to go for young people.but sometimes thoughs young people grow up, sometimes they dont stop, and then they are adults with barely anywhere to go, cos they are no longer young people. my message is, there is still help out there for us older people, there is still help, you just need to look a bit harder…..x

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