Self- harm

Self-harm is behaviour that is done deliberately to harm oneself. It's usually a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress.

Sometimes when people self-harm, they feel on some level that they intend to die which sometimes can result in accidental death.

After self-harming people feel a short-term sense of release, but the cause of distress is unlikely to have gone away. Self-harm can also bring up very difficult emotions and could make you feel worse.

Even though there are always reasons underneath someone hurting themselves, it is important to know that self-harm does carry risks. Once you have started to depend on self-harm, it can take a long time to stop.

For some Self-harm can also be a cry for help. Some individuals have described self-harm as a way to express something that is hard to put into words.


·       They want to turn invisible thoughts or feelings into something visible

·       They feel to change emotional pain into physical pain

·       They want to reduce overwhelming emotional feelings or thoughts

·       They want to have a sense of being in control

·       They want to escape distressing memories

·       Punishing themselves for your feelings and experiences they have.

·       They want to create a reason to physically care for themselves and stop feeling numb and disconnected

·       They are expressing suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking their own life.


There are many factors that make a vulnerable person to self harm themselves.

·       Depression

·       Anxiety & Low self-esteem

·       Hopelessness & Poor problem-solving

·       Impulsivity & eating disorders

·       Drug or Alcohol abuse

·       Bullying

·       Mental health difficulties in the family

·       Poor parental relationships

·       Drug or alcohol misuse in the family

·       Unreasonable expectations

·       Conflict between young person and parents

·       Excessive punishments or restrictions

·       Family history of self-harm

·       Sexual abuse & Neglect Social Factors

·       Difficulties in relationships


Getting help

If you're self-harming, you should see your GP for help. They can refer you to healthcare professionals. Treatment for people who self-harm usually involves seeing a therapist to discuss your thoughts and feelings, and how these affect your behaviour and wellbeing. They can also teach you coping strategies to help prevent further episodes of self-harm.

Some physical injuries may need treating in an accident and emergency (A&E) department, or you may need to call 999 for an ambulance if you or somebody else have taken an overdose of drugs, alcohol or prescription medication somebody is unconscious.

You may need to get immediate help if you or somebody else are in a lot of pain having difficulty breathing, are losing a lot of blood from a cut or wound or are in shock after a serious cut or burn.


Suicide is the act of intentionally ending your life.

Suicide occurs in people of all ages, including children.

Many people who've had suicidal thoughts say they were so overwhelmed by negative feelings they felt they had no other option.

If you're reading this because you have, or have had, thoughts about taking your life, it's important you ask someone for help. It's probably very difficult for you to seek help at this time but it is important you are not alone and not beyond help.

Getting help

If you are feeling suicidal, there are people you can talk to who want to help.

Speaking to a friend, family member or someone you trust as they may be able to help you calm down and find some breathing space.

Call 999 and immediately go to A&E.

If you are worried someone is suicidal

If you're worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, try to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Listening is the best way to help, try not to judge and give advice.

Why some people take their life

There is no single reason why someone may try to take their life, but certain things can increase the risk. 

A person may be more likely to have suicidal thoughts if they have a mental health condition, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Misusing alcohol or drugs and having poor job security can also make a person more vulnerable.

It's not always possible to prevent suicidal thoughts, but keeping your mind healthy with regular exercise, healthy eating and maintaining friendships can help you cope better with stressful or upsetting situations.

In many cases, suicide is also linked to feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.

Many experts believe a number of things determine how vulnerable a person is to suicidal thinking and behaviour. These include life history, having a traumatic experience during childhood, a history of sexual or physical abuse, or a history of parental neglect.

Sometimes, a stressful event may push a person "over the edge", leading to suicidal thinking and behaviour. It may only take a minor event, such as having an argument with a partner.

There are other factors that can make a person more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts include:

·       Mental health conditions

·       Severe depression

·       Bipolar disorder

·       Schizophrenia

·       Borderline personality disorder

·       Anorexia nervosa 

·       being gay, lesbian or transgender, arising from the prejudice these groups often face

·       being in debt

·       being homeless

·       being a war veteran or being in prison or recently released from prison

·       exposure to other people with suicidal behaviour, especially close friends or family members

Antidepressants and suicide risk

Some people experience suicidal thoughts when they first take antidepressants. Young people under 25 seem particularly at risk.

Contact your GP immediately or go to your local hospital if you have thoughts of killing or harming yourself at any time while taking antidepressants.

Suicide and some mental health problems can run in families. This has led to speculation that certain genes may be associated with suicide.

However the other theory is known as interpersonal theory of suicide.

The theory states three main factors which can cause someone to turn to suicide.

·       a perception they are alone in the world and no one really cares about them

·       a feeling they are a burden on others and people would be better off if they were dead

·       fearlessness towards pain and death

People who are regularly exposed to the suffering and pain of others may develop this fearlessness over time.

High-risk warning signs

A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they threaten to hurt or kill themselves or talk or write about death, dying or suicide and are actively look for ways to kill themselves.

A person may also be at risk of attempting suicide if they complain of feelings of hopelessness, have episodes of sudden rage and anger, act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences, talk about feeling of being trapped, self-harm, noticeably gain or lose weight due to a change in their appetite and become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general appear anxious and agitated.

A person may be at high risk if they are unable to sleep or they sleep all the time, have sudden mood swings, talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose, lose interest in most things, including their appearance, put their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will.

If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.

Also share your concerns with your GP or a member of their care team, if they are being treated for a mental health condition.

You cannot guarantee you will never get a mental health condition, but you can take steps to improve your mental health.

Exercise and diet

Research shows that for some people with mild depression, exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in reducing depressive symptoms. Being physically active helps to uplift your mood, reduces stress and anxiety and encourage improve self-esteem.

It's also important to eat a healthy diet. Eating healthily may be as important for maintaining mental health as it is for protecting against physical health problems.

Avoid isolation

Becoming socially isolated is a significant risk factor for suicide. Try to remain engaged as much as possible with the world around you. Talk to someone you trust about how you feel and maintain your friendships and interests, even if you don't feel like it at times.

Research has shown that people who regularly spend time helping others through charitable activities or other voluntary work are typically more mentally healthy than the general population. You may benefit from volunteering with a local charity or voluntary organisation. Persistent negative thinking can mean you risk withdrawing from the world and becoming more isolated staying positive.