• Question: what is self-harming

    Asked by shelbzzxx to Faye, Martin, Mus, Pete on 24 May 2012.
    • Photo: Pete Etchells

      Pete Etchells answered on 24 May 2012:

      Self-harming is when someone deliberately injures themselves, usually by burning or cutting themselves, or even hair-pulling. It can be associated with a wide range of mental illnesses, but also happens during teenage years in response to bad things happening (for example, if someone in your family dies, or if you are having troubles at school). There are a number of reasons people might do it – some people might find it helps them to cope with stressful situations, perhaps by generating a feeling of pain that they can concentrate on instead of having to focus on a specific problem. Other people might do it in order to communicate to other people that they are distressed (note that this doesn’t mean that they are ‘attention-seeking’).

      It’s not something to be ashamed about. If you know someone who is suffering from it, generally the cause is something else, as I’ve mentioned above. There is absolutely nothing wrong with talking to a doctor, teacher, parent or friend about it – it happens with LOTS of people. And going to see a doctor, especially, might be able to help with the underlying cause.

    • Photo: Faye Didymus

      Faye Didymus answered on 26 May 2012:

      Self harming is a way of expressing distressing feelings and emotions. Some people think that self harming is a way of seeking attention but it usually isn’t. Individuals self harm as they see it as a release of distressing feelings and emotions. Many people on the outside see self harming as cutting and scratching their skin. However, self harming can include; taking an overdose, developing an eating disorder, becoming addicted to something such as alcohol or someone not looking after their own emotional and physical needs.

      People who self harm may have gone through a very upsetting, traumatic, or distressing time. Sometimes people who are bullied for example, turn to self harming.

      As Pete said, it’s nothing to be ashamed about and if someone is self-harming, speaking to someone they trust, like a doctor, might be helpful.