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Self-Harm Self Help Guide

What is self-harm?

• Self-harm means the act of hurting yourself on purpose and this could include any of the following behaviours;
• Cutting, burning and slashing the skin
• Obsessive cleaning of the skin, sometimes using bleach
• Pulling Hair Out
• Hitting your body
• Continually scratching or picking the skin
• Neglecting ones personal hygiene on purpose
• Drinking too much alcohol, excess smoking or drugs
• Eating too much or too little
• Over working leading to exhaustion
• Risk taking behaviours

Self-harm can be a way to;

• Get some control over painful or confusing feelings
• Ways to punish yourself (this might be more likely if person has low self-esteem or blames themselves for the trauma.
• May provide comfort at a difficult time , using a coping strategy that is familiar.
• May help cope with numb or painful feelings.

Challenging some myths about self harm.

Self harm is not a failed suicide attempt – Self-harm is more about attempting to cope with life rather than wanting to die. Injuries can occasionally be life threatening but this is rare.

Self harm is not attention seeking behaviour. Many people try to hide evidence of their self-harm. People don’t hurt themselves to get sympathy or gain attention.

Self –harm is not a sign of someone who is so mentally unwell that they are going mad. Self-harm is a sign of someone in deep distress.

People who self-harm are no danger to others. They may feel hopeless or worthless and as a result they may ignore their own needs.

If their emotions seem impossible to understand or feel overwhelming, self-harm may feel like the only answer to destroy those feelings.

Ways to help

Beginning to understand the reasons for your self-harm may help you to have a little more compassion towards yourself and to feel a little more in control of your actions.

• Writing a diary – considering how you feel before and after you have self-harmed.
• Asking yourself what Self-harm means to you – identify when you first began self-harming and what self-harming gives to you.
• Recognise the reasons why you would like to stop hurting yourself – Is it due to pressure from others, a desire to reduce your feelings of shame and guilt about the self-harm or does self-harm no longer seem to work for you?
• Recognising if there is a trigger for your self-harm – Is there a pattern you can identify? For example, when you had a flashback, when you are alone or a certain anniversary. Bringing the triggers into your self awareness may help you to change your behaviour, as you time to reflect upon whether there are other healthier coping strategies you might choose.
• Identify your support resources – This may include loved ones and friends who are aware of the self-harm and may be able to support you, telephone helplines, support workers. Think about what they could do that may help to support you in the moments when you want to self-harm.