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Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It is a way of expressing deep emotional feelings such as low self-esteem, or a way of coping with traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one.

Self-harm is an expression of personal distress, rather than an illness, although it can be linked to other mental health conditions such as depression.

An indicator of the deliberate infliction of harm to one's self may include:

  • cutting or slashing the skin
  • burning the skin
  • punching, biting or using blunt force on the body
  • hanging, strangulation, suffocation or self-poisoning
  • misusing alcohol or drugs
  • refusing food or water or eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, binge eating or bulimia.

People often try to keep self-harm a secret and may cover up their skin and avoid discussing the problem. The signs may include unexplained injuries and signs of depression or low self-esteem.

Someone who is self-harming can seriously hurt themselves, so it is important that they speak to a doctor about the underlying issue and about any treatment or therapy that might help them.

Source: NHS Choices, UK (Self-harm)

Last reviewed: August 2015

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Found 94 results


Self-harm refers to people deliberately hurting their bodies. Its usually done in secret and on parts of the body that may not be seen by others. The most common type of self-harm is cutting, but there are many other ways of self-harming including burning or punching the body, or picking skin or sores.

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What is self-harm? Self-harm means any behaviour which involves the deliberate causing of pain or injury to oneself – usually as an extreme way of trying to cope with distressing or painful feelings.

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Deliberate self-harm and suicide

All self-harm deserves serious assessment. If you are concerned that a member of your family is self-harming, then seek help from your family doctor or local mental health service.

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Self-harm and teenagers - ReachOut Parents

Learn about self-harm and get tips on supporting your teenager who may be self-harming.

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Self-harm means any behaviour which involves the deliberate causing of pain or injury to oneself usually as an extreme way of trying to cope with di...

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Cutting or self harm

Trusted information about cutting or self harm, including what, how and what next from leading Australian health organisations.

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Helping parents manage self-harm

Self-harm refers to when a person deliberately hurts their bodies. The most common type of self-harm amongst young people is cutting, but can also include things such as burning or picking at skin.

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Self-harm: guide for the public | RANZCP

Information and advice on self-harm, written by the mental health experts.

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What is self-harm? | Australia

Find out more about why people self-harm and ways you can change behaviour.

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Self harm TINO : Tune In Not Out

Self harm refers to people deliberately hurting their bodies. Help and support is available

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