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Sometimes people self-harm as a way to cope. Learn what self-harm is, why people self-harm, and what can help.

Content Warning: this article contains information about mental health which may be distressing or triggering.

Sad girl with bandage on wrist

What is self-harm?

Self-harm is when someone hurts or injures their body on purpose.

  • It includes things like cutting, burning, scratching or hitting
  • It can be really dangerous
  • Self-harming doesn’t always mean that the person wants to end their life
  • If you are thinking about hurting yourself, it’s important to let someone know so they can help you cope

Why do people self-harm?

There are many reasons why someone might self-harm and everyone’s story is different. Here's just a few reasons why somebody might self-harm:

Express difficult emotions

Feel connected to something

Have seen it work for other people

Feel relief

Control or escape their feelings

Punish themselves

Cope with their feelings

Show they need help

"Are you sure you're ok? Because it seems like you've been hurting yourself."

Who can help?

Self-harming can be really dangerous, so it’s important to reach out to someone who can help. You might like to speak with:

  • A parent or trusted adult in your life
  • Kids Helpline
  • School counsellor
  • Teacher
  • Youth worker
  • Psychologist or Social Worker
  • Doctor or nurse

Important: If you need urgent medical help call an ambulance (000) or go to the emergency department of your local hospital.

Young people with lived experience of mental health answer questions about self-harm and suicidal thoughts asked by young people on our Instagram Stories.

How can someone help?

Seeking support can help you:

Reduce self-harm
Find positive ways to cope
Handle stress
Figure out what makes you self-harm
Deal with what is causing you to self-harm
Cope with painful and overwhelming feelings
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
Sort out problems with family and friends

"If you're worried about self-harming contact a Kids Helpline counsellor today."

You’re not alone.

Kids Helpline is always open. We care, we listen.

Give us a call on 1800 55 1800, start a WebChat or send us an email today.

If you need more information for other digital services and resources, check out Head to Health.

This content was last reviewed 14/02/2018

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