Self-harm refers to people deliberately hurting their bodies. It is usually done in secret and on places of the body that may not be seen by others. The most common type of self-harm is cutting, but there are many other types of self-harm including burning or punching the body, or picking skin or sores.
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.
Having supportive people around you is always important. Surround yourself with people that you trust, who will listen to you without judgement and who you enjoy being with. It’s good to work on some things that you can do for yourself, but you don't to have to face this challenge alone. It's important to let others know how you feel when things don’t go to plan. Don’t build up worries, anger or disappointments – talk about them.
A counsellor, psychologist or GP can help you to work out what is triggering your self-harm and begin to work with you on managing your difficult thoughts and feelings. Talk to your GP or find a mental health professional. You can also call a crisis line like Lifeline – 13 11 14.