Self-harm is when someone hurts themselves on purpose, as a way of dealing with difficult or painful feelings. Lots of different types of people struggle with self-harm including boys, girls, young and old, people with different backgrounds, with different hobbies and interests and different lifestyles.


Everybody is different so there are lots of reasons why people self-harm. Some might use self harm as a method to release tension and relieve stress, others see self harm as a physical pain that they can control, rather than a feeling or emotion that can be hard to deal with. It can also be used as a way of self punishment or because they feel alone, angry or not good enough. Self-harm can be really personal and complicated, so it’s okay if you don’t know the reasons behind it.

Things to remember!

  • there are lots of different reasons why someone might self-harm
  • self-harm doesn’t define you – there are lots of things that make you who you are
  • it’s better to talk to someone and get help, rather than keep it all inside
  • you can talk to a Childline counsellor at any time
  • there are other ways to cope – and different things work for different people.

How do people self harm?

There are lots of different ways someone could self-harm, including:


  • cutting or scratching
  • causing bruises
  • banging their head against a wall
  • punching a wall
  • pulling out their hair
  • burning
  • falling over on purpose
  • breaking a bone on purpose.

Staying safe

It’s really important that you get medical help when you are seriously injured, you must never rely on the internet to get medical information. You can get medical advice from a school nurse, teacher, GP, parent, carer or your doctor.. If you need urgent help you must go to the Accident and Emergency department of your local hospital, but if your life’s in danger call 999 straight away.

How do I tell someone I self harm?

Lots of young people have said that telling someone about their self-harm was one of the best ways of coping. Talking is important because it means you don’t have to deal with everything on your own. But it’s not always easy, so how can you tell someone about it?


  • Find an adult you feel comfortable with, someone you can talk to, someone you trust. This could be a friend, a teacher, a nurse or a Childline counsellor.
  • Write down what you want to say before you talk to the person. This can help make sure you don’t forget.
  • Tell them what you’re hoping to get from the conversation.
  • You can also prepare with a Childline counsellor if you’re unsure what you want to say.

Self harm blogs

A lot of self-harm websites and blogs can make you feel less alone at first, but after a while, these types of sites can make things much worse. Looking at self-harm images can make you want to hurt yourself even more, the sites can become addictive and after a while can make it even harder to stop self-harming.

So how should I cope with self harm?

When you’re feeling emotions that make you want to self-harm, it’s good to find other ways of coping, a positive outlet for you feelings.




  • Listening to music
  • Talking to friends or family
  • Writing down or drawing how you feel
  • Exercising
  • Walking the dog
  • Screaming
  • Crying
  • Having a bath
  • Burning incense
  • Painting
  • Playing a Childline game
  • Setting a target time (for example, saying you won’t harm for 15 minutes, and then if you can last, try another 15 minutes)
  • Craft activities
  • Playing an instrument
  • Baking
  • Playing computer games
  • Drawing on your body with red pen
  • Talking to a Childline counsellor.


Find an outlet that’s personal to you, a healthy alternative to self harm. For support and outlet ideas visit  or search #MyOutlet on social media sites

How can I help a friend who self harms?

Finding out that someone you care about is self-harming can leave you feeling worried, confused and a bit helpless. But many young people who self-harm get help by talking to someone. There are things you can do to help:


  • remember that it may have been really difficult for them to have told you about self-harming, so try not to judge them
  • listen to how they feel—sometimes just being there for your friend may be what they need
  • encourage them to get support with how they’re feeling
  • look after yourself and make sure that you get support as well.
  • Remember that Childline counsellors are there to listen whenever you or your friend needs to talk.