Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It is a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress.
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.
This can be caused by problems such as:
- social factors – such as being bullied, having difficulties at work or school, or having difficult relationships with friends or family
- trauma – such as physical or sexual abuse, or the death of a close family member or friend
- mental health conditions – such as depression.
These issues can lead to a build-up of intense feelings of anger, hopelessness and self-hatred.