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The reasons people self-harm are often misunderstood. Get clued-up on the facts about self-harm here, including what to do if you've started self-harming or if someone you know is doing it...
Self-harm means deliberately injuring ourselves. Often this leaves a mark, a scar, draws blood or leaves a bruise. The most common ways of doing this are cutting, scratching or pricking to draw blood, burning, picking at old wounds, punching or head-banging a wall.
All kinds of people self-harm, but it's most common among girls age 15-19 and men aged 20-24. It's not known exactly how many people self-harm, as it's often hidden.
The reasons people self-harm are often misunderstood. It isn't about attention seeking or wanting to die.
Most people who self harm have been through bad stuff in their lives like bullying, abuse or bad family relationships. They may feel bad about themselves. As pressure builds up, self harm can feel the only way of dealing with it. Sometimes a physical pain provides a relief to the feelings in their head.
They may want to punish themselves because they feel guilty or worthless. Or they may feel the cutting acts like a pressure valve, allowing them to relax.
Self-harmers usually want to stop, but don't know how else to cope. They may not know how to express emotions, or perhaps they believe that they're bad and deserve to be punished.
You don't have to keep it secret or let it rule your life. Talk to someone today. Start with your GP or one of the organisations below.
In the meantime, try doing something else when you get the urge to harm. Get outside and do something different. Learn to spot when the pressure is building up. Understand that everyone has times like this and that you deserve a gentler way of dealing with it.
Install a punch bag. Beat up a pillow. Squeezing an ice-cube or flicking an elastic band works for many people.
The most important thing is to be accepting and not judgemental. Offer to listen if they want to talk. Gently try to persuade them to get professional help and not to keep it secret.
But remember, it's not your fault if they harm and you mustn't feel guilty if they carry on.
Don't join in. Peer pressure is a powerful thing. Self harming is good for nobody and the marks last forever.
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