Self harm is the carrying out of intentional acts which harm your body. Self harm is usually a way of trying to deal with feelings of distress or pain which have built up and up and which the person doesn’t feel they can express in other ways. People can turn to self harm as a way of trying to get control over painful feelings, to punish themselves, or to try to “wake themselves up” because they feel numb or dead inside.
If you have depression, an eating disorder, or problems with alcohol and drugs, you might be more likely to self harm (in fact some people say that eating disorders and problematic drinking or drug taking are kinds of self harm).
People often hide the fact that they are self-harming – but if they don’t get help the problems can get worse and self harm can increase. People who self harm don’t usually want to end their lives. They see self harm as a way of coping with things which they feel are unbearable. But there is a risk that they can cause themselves serious damage or kill themselves by accident. For some people, though, there are underlying suicidal feelings which can escalate over time. People who self harm are more at risk of suicide.