You may self-harm as a way of dealing with difficult feelings, memories or overwhelming situations.

Self-harm can include cutting, burning, scratching, hitting and swallowing sharp or poisonous items or substances. You may not wish to die, but you may have suicidal thoughts.

Why do people self-harm?

The reason you self-harm may be individual and complex, but in general self-harm can be a way of expressing strong feelings such as anger, guilt, shame or sadness. It can distract from the source of distress and can offer an element of control which may be lacking in other areas of life.

Why stop self-harming?

Even if you feel that your actions are under control and are serving a useful purpose, there are good reasons to talk to someone about harm reduction:

  • The behaviour can escalate as your body becomes used to it.
  • You may unintentionally do yourself serious injury.
  • Those close to you may become less anxious and upset.
  • You may develop strategies for managing the desire to hurt yourself, so increasing your choices.
  • If you wish, you can explore the feelings that might have given rise to self-harming impulses.

If you decide you want things to change, start by talking to someone who will respect your wishes and offer support without judgement.

What can I do to help myself?

The Northumberland NHS self-help guide on self-harm is an excellent resource, providing advice including:

  • immediate, short term solutions, that may help you move past the urge to self-harm when you are in crisis
  • what to do if you feel you must hurt yourself
  • and longer-term solutions.

It can be helpful to keep a brief diary recording events leading up to this and how they made you think, feel and behave. This will help you improve your understanding and identify changes you can make.

How can we help?

If you need help with self-harm for yourself or a friend, the Open Door Team can offer advice or support. Complete the Open Door online referral form - see help and support for more information.

Alternatively, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Help and support