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What is self-harm?

Self-harm or self-injury is when someone hurts themselves intentionally as a means of expressing, releasing or coping with intense feelings.

Self-harming can take on many forms, not just cutting but also scratching, bruising, burning, scalding, inserting objects into the body, pulling hair out (trichotillomania) or taking an overdose. By self-harming it can feel like these feelings are more manageable for a while, but the release or the escape is only short term.

Are you self-harming?

If you are self-harming then you might have hurt yourself a few times, or you might be self-harming on a regular basis. You might find you have done the following:

  • Self-inflicted cuts, scratches, bruises or other wounds
  • Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather to hide wounds
  • Claiming to have frequent accidents or mishaps
  • Spending a great deal of time alone
  • Carving words or symbols on the skin

If you think that someone close to you might be self-harming, the physical signs might be harder to identify. People who self-harm are likely to hide marks – self harming is a very private act and people are usually reluctant to talk about it or be questioned about it, even if you are coming from a place of care or concern.


The reason people self-harm are often complex, very personal and often feel deeply private. However, some things make people more likely to self-harm:

  • Physical illness
  • Struggling to cope with feelings
  • Experiences dating back to childhood
  • Unemployment
  • Bereavement
  • Family problems
  • Other life-changing events

We can help you manage difficult feelings

There are many reasons why people may self-harm. It may be a matter of pushing emotional pain into a physical outlet. It may be a way of expressing hidden feelings. In order to address the cause for self-harming, it is important to identify where the distress and painful feelings are coming from, perhaps you started self-harming because there has been something going on in your life that you’re struggling to cope with.

Regardless of the cause, if you or someone close to you is self-harming, it is important to know that sometimes self-harming is a survival technique, a way of releasing or controlling emotions that may otherwise leave someone feeling worse. When the self-harming and emotional distress persists, it is important to try and get help. It can be hard to give up self-harming behaviours and people who self-harm might need support whilst trying to find other means of coping and that’s exactly how we can help you.

The easiest way is to give us a call and we can help you find other ways to cope with difficult feelings.

Download our self-harm information sheet here

Call us

Saturday Support 020 8175 6776

Open on Saturdays from 10am-1pm

Croydon Service 020 8251 0251

Merton Service 020 3984 4004

Sutton Service 020 8680 8899

Email us

General enquiries info@talkofftherecord.org