Self Harm – Cool2Talk
behaviouralEmotional Healthmental health

Self Harm


Self-harm is when someone hurts or inflicts injuries on themselves and is usually a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress. This can take a number of forms including, cutting yourself, taking overdoses of tablets or medicines, punching oneself, head banging, pulling out hair or eye lashes, scratching, picking, tearing or biting at one’s skin causing sores or scarring, inhaling or sniffing harmful substances, swallowing objects, being sexually active with many partners, and many other ways.


Young people might self-harm because it’s a way of releasing tension or controlling something. It’s a physical  pain that you can deal with, rather than an emotional feeling that you might find hard to cope with. Self-harm can also be used as a way of self-punishment for something you feel bad about. Self-harm is more common than many people realise, especially among younger people. It’s estimated around 10% of young people self-harm at some point, but people of all ages do.


No-one to talk to who will understand, too scared in case others think they are mad or bad, worried about how other people might react, too ashamed, scared that others may make them stop.

Help for self harm

When you decide to get help, remember you are not alone, lots of other teenagers who self-harm have made the same decision and many have been helped to stop hurting themselves. One of the best ways to get help is finding someone to talk to and trust. This could be a parent, brother, sister, grandparent, friend, school health nurse, teacher, social worker, school counsellor, youth worker. Your doctor could refer you to a self-harm nurse, counsellor or psychologist if you say you need someone to talk to. Many schools also have wellbeing workers.

Self-harm coping techniques.

Self-harm is generally a way of dealing with difficult feelings. Here are some other ways to cope and feel better:-

  • Why not try drawing a butterfly where you normally hurt yourself. Use it to remind yourself not to self-harm and keep trying. If you do self-harm you can wash it off and start again, but if you manage to keep it going until it fades, it means the butterfly has flown away.
  • A stress ball can be used  to take your anger out on it.
  • Screaming into a pillow can also help to reduce your anger feelings, as does taking a cold shower, or going for a run.
  • Don’t be afraid to cry, crying shows pain just as much as self-harm, but is less dangerous.
  • Finding a hobby that allows you to express your feelings, like art or writing poetry may be for you.
  • Listening to music, while you list the things you like about yourself.
  • Set yourself a target, not to self-harm for 15 minutes and then if you last, try another 15 minutes.
  • Try focusing on your breathing CLICK HERE for some useful tips on calming yourself through breathing.
  • You may want to try other less harmful ways of coping but something that gives you that shock factor, like squeezing ice cubes or biting on a lemon.
  • Many young people have said that talking about what is making then need to self-harm has been the most helped, if speaking to someone feels to hard, write it down, that can be a good way to start.

Try not to beat yourself up if you find any of the above techniques don’t work the first time, there is always the next time.

Calm Harm app – helps you manage the urge to self harm


Other sources of help:

Childline Self harm information 

Childline confidential phone line offering young people advice on all sorts of problems. Freephone 0800 1111 (24 hours)

The MIX tips for managing self harm

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