Self-harm stigma

Find out about the stigma that people face who self-harm.

 Content Editor

​What is self-harm?
Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It is usually a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress.
Sometimes, when people self-harm they feel on some level that they intend to die. More than half of people who die by suicide have a history of self-harm.
Self-harm is commonly considered a physical response to a type of emotional pain. It can be used as a method to cope with difficult feelings, distressing situations or overwhelming experiences. It can also be a way of feeling able to control discomfort or relieve tension.
However, the intention is more often to punish themselves, express their distress or relieve unbearable tension. Sometimes, the reason is a mixture of both.
Self-harm can also be a cry for help.
Self-harm and stigma
Self-harm is also often associated with attention-seeking also some young people who do it are all too aware of the stigma of self-harm, it can affect their relationships with friends and family and their sense of self-worth.

Some people start self-harming to cope with their problems and feelings, but it very soon creates other serious problems. It can set up an addictive pattern of behaviour, from which it can be very hard to break free. Some people who have self harmed have said that when they have self harmed they can imagine how people would judge them, perhaps think that they are a 'freak' for hurting myself, and probably feel quite sick themselves once they knew.
Getting help
If you're self-harming, you should see your GP for help. They can refer you to healthcare professionals at a local community mental health service for further assessment. This assessment will result in your care team working out a treatment plan with you to help with your distress.