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 www.selfharm.co.uk, also www.thesite.org)
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:
- Why do I feel I need to hurt myself? What has happened to make me feel like this?
- Have I felt like this before? What did I do to deal with it? How did my feelings change?
- What have I have done to make myself feel better already? What else can I do that won’t hurt me?
- How am I feeling right now?
- How will I feel when I am self-harming?
- How will I feel after hurting myself? How will I feel tomorrow morning?
- Can I avoid this, or deal with it better in the future?
- Do I need to hurt myself?
Questions to think about in terms of recovery:
- Do I want to stop?
- Do I have friends, family, and/or professionals that I can use if I feel like hurting myself?
- Are there at least two people I can call if I want to hurt myself?
- What else can I do instead of hurting myself? (see here for some examples)
- Have I stopped myself from self-harming in the past? If so, what has helped?
- Can I think of a place to go if I need to leave the house so as not to hurt myself?
- Can I get rid of the things you hurt yourself with?
- 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:
www.selfinjurysupport.org.uk – Information and advice with list of support groups across the UK.
National Self Harm Network: 0800 622 6000
(For sources: see above)