Self Harm… what does that mean??

Attention seeking… a cry for help…suicidal…

self harm picture 1

A quick google search provides the following definition:



deliberate injury to oneself, typically as a manifestation of a psychological or psychiatric disorder.


commit self-harm.


Self-harm is an umbrella term for any behavior, 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 and is most often done without suicidal intentions.

For many of the young people I see as part of my job self-harm is a way of managing the struggles they face and giving themselves enough control to be able to face the day, but sometimes after self-harming people can feel worse. Self-harm UK say ‘13% of young people may try to hurt themselves on purpose at some point between the ages of 11 and 16’ but it’s so difficult to get actual figures because many young people don’t ask for help, the most common method we come across is cutting (generally to the arms and legs). In this blog I don’t want to bore you with lots of stats or tell you how to ‘fix’ people, who self-harm because it’s not as simple as that, as part of my role as project worker I try to give simple advise to young people on how to manage their emotions and I’m going to share some of that advice with you.

Different Types of Self-harm


As I said before the most common form of self-harm I come across is cutting but there’s lots of different ways people self-harm, some of these are less obvious, such as putting yourself in risky situations, or not looking after your own physical or emotional needs.


Weating problems picture 1ays of self-harming can include:

  • cutting yourself
  • poisoning yourself
  • over or under-eating
  • burning your skin
  • inserting objects into your body
  • hitting yourself or walls
  • overdosing
  • misusing alcohol and drugs
  • exercising excessively
  • scratching and hair pulling


There are some Do’s and Don’ts if you know someone who is self-harming or has been thinking about self-harm…



  • Stay calm
  • Listen to how they are feeling and offer constructive advice
  • Continue with any plans or daily routines
  • Be supportive
  • Encourage them to seek help


  • Ask to see the cuts/injuries
  • Bribe them to stop
  • Remove all sharp objects from your home (this can make them feel alienated)
  • Take it personally
  • Tell them off
  • Avoid discussing it if they bring it up
  • Be offended if they feel more comfortable talking to a counsellor/other professional


And some simple Techniques for when someone feels they want to Self-harm:

  • Hit pillows or cushions, or have a good scream into a pillow or cushion to vent anger and frustration
  • Rub ice across your skin where you might usually cut, or hold an ice-cube in the crook of your arm or leg, you could also use red ice if this helps
  • Put elastic bands on wrists, arms or legs and flick them instead of cutting or hitting
  • Have a cold bath or shower
  • Use a red felt tip pen to mark where you might usually cut
  • Do some vigorous exercise like running, martial arts or swimming
  • Practice Mindfulness or Meditation


There is one thing that I always tell young people who self-harm You are not alone! Self-harm can become habitual and it isn’t easy to stop but there are people who can offer practical support and advice.

self harm picture 2

This is a list of organisations which you can turn to if you are struggling with self harm, you can also talk to a teacher or doctor who will be able to help you find support:

posted by claire
My name’s Claire, I’m a project worker for the Murray Hall Shield Programme. I also run the MENT4U volunteering programme as a part of Shield.



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