Self-harm is a method of dealing with very difficult feelings, old memories, overwhelming situations or experiences. Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It is a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress. It can be physical harm, such as cutting oneself, putting oneself in risky situations or not looking after one’s physical or emotional needs. After self-harming, the person may feel better and be able to cope for a while. However, self-harm may bring up very difficult feelings that make the situation worse. Self-harm is a symptom of underlying mental or emotional distress. Young people who self-harm mainly do so because they find it helps relieve distressing feelings and helps them cope with problems in their lives. Although some people who self-harm are at a high risk of ending their lives, many people who self-harm do not want to end their lives. In fact, the self-harm may help them cope with emotional distress so they don't feel the need to kill themselves. Often when people self-harm the intention is to punish themselves, express their distress or relieve unbearable tension.
Read the NHS self-help guide to Self-Harm.