Why do people self-harm?
In general people self-harm as a way of coping. People often talk about harming themselves to relieve, control or express distressing feelings, thoughts or memories.
Some people harm themselves because they feel alone, while others do so to punish themselves due to feelings of guilt or shame. However, the relief they experience after self-harming is only short term and at some point the difficult feelings usually
return. With the return of these feelings often comes an urge to self-harm again. This cycle of self-harm is often difficult to break.
Most people who self-harm are not trying to kill themselves, but there's a chance that they may hurt
themselves more than they intended to; this increases their risk of accidental suicide. People who repeatedly self-harm may also become suicidal and feel hopeless and trapped.
Replace your self-harm with something less harmful
Try a few of these to see if they work for you.
- Try holding ice cubes on your hand – cold causes pain but is not dangerous to your health.
- Wear a rubber band on your wrist and
snap it when you feel the need.
- Use a red pen to draw on the areas you might normally cut.
- Work it off with exercise.
- Scribble with red pen on a piece of paper.
- Try deep breathing and relaxation exercises.
- Try and focus on something
around you, something simple, watch it for a while and see if that can distract you from the negative thoughts.
- Talk with someone.
If you find it hard to remember your options, write them down or put them in your phone to refer to when you need it.
Learn about ways to cope: download our Self-harm and self-injury fact sheet.