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Last updated:
23 October 2017

Self-harm

How to spot the signs and help someone at risk.

1 What is self-harm?

Self-harm is when somebody does something to damage or injure their own body. It is usually a way for someone to cope with or express difficult feelings. It can also be a cry for help. 

There are many ways a person can self-harm, these include:

  • cutting
  • burning
  • taking overdoses of medicines
  • hair pulling
  • scratching skin
  • punching or hitting themselves
  • inhaling or sniffing harmful substances. 

It can be difficult to tell if someone is self-harming however there is lots of advice and support available

Watch Stuart talk about his personal experiences of self-harm and the support and advice he received that helped his recovery. 

2 Where to get help

If you're worried about your or someone else's self-harm, help is available. Talk to your GP who may refer you on to another healthcare professional, or talk to a friend, family member or teacher. 

Other sources of help and support include:

3 Self-harm Out (shOUT)

Self-Harm Out (shOUT) is a group that aims to signpost young people to resources and support, and challenge the way that self-harm is portrayed in the media.  

They have created resources of where to get help if you or someone you know self-harms. 

They have also introduced the Crisis Card which you can use to ask for support if:

  • you are unsure who to turn to or how to start a conversation on self-harm
  • you are feeling scared by what you are doing or thinking
  • you are concerned about a friend who might be self-harming
  • you need to know how to get appropriate treatment. 

These cards are available at FindItOut Centres, Worthing and Crawley College. 

If you are a professional

If you are given a Crisis Card by a young person:

  • they may be about to ask for help for themselves or a friend
  • this could be the young persons first attempt at asking for help
  • they may be concerned about breaking confidentiality or a promise to a friend.

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