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

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

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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?

Although there are many reasons why someone might self-harm, everyone’s story is different. Self-harm can be a way for someone to:

Express difficult emotions

Feel connected to something

Fit in with friends

Feel relief

Control or escape their feelings

Punish themselves

Cope with their feelings

Show they need help

Who can help?

Self-harming can be really dangerous. It’s important to reach out to someone and get help.  Here's some people you could try talking with: 

  • A Kids Helpline counsellor

  • A psychologist or social worker

  • A trusted friend who'll listen and encourage you to find other ways of coping

  • A family member you can turn to for support

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

"It might feel too difficult to stop self-harming if you been doing it for a while, but it's never too late. We can help you figure out what the next steps might be."

You’re not alone.

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

Call us 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 15/02/2018
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