Self-harm

Reflections on university lake

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.

What can we do to 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 or speak to your doctor. 

Self-harm can be a symptom of anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses; see our Related content section and the Resources below for further advice on these issues, or contact your doctor.

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.

In crisis now

Call 999 for emergency services - or for security services on campus call 01904 32 3333 or use the Safezone app.

Who to contact

For initial Open Door appointments please complete the online referral form which is on the Help and Support page.

Open Door 
Sally Baldwin Block B
Tel: +44 (0)1904 322140
Email: opendoor@york.ac.uk

Opening Times

Term Time: Monday - Friday 9am - 10.00pm
Vacation Times: Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm

Please note we are closed weekends and Bank Holidays.

Related content

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.

Resources