Self-harm 

Introduction 

Self-harm

An expert explains why young people may self-harm, and describes some of the different forms it can take. Caroline, director of Harmless, used to self-harm as a teenager. She gives advice on how to get the right support.

Media last reviewed: 04/03/2014

Next review due: 04/03/2016

Useful organisations

There are a number of organisations you can contact that offer support and advice for people who self-harm, as well as their friends and families. These include:

Find more mental health helplines.

Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It is a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress.

Sometimes when people self-harm they intend to die but often the intention is more to punish themselves, express their distress or relieve unbearable tension. Self-harm can also be a cry for help.

If you are self-harming, you should see your GP for help. You can also call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for support or visit the website of Mind (a mental health charity) for further advice.

Your GP will usually offer to refer you to healthcare professionals at a local community mental health service for further assessment. This assessment will result in your care team working out a treatment plan with you.

Treatment for people who self-harm will usually involve seeing a therapist to discuss your feelings and thoughts and how these affect your behaviour and wellbeing. If you are badly depressed it could also involve taking antidepressant medication.

Read more about getting help if you self-harm.

Why people self-harm

Self-harm is more common than many people realise, especially among younger people. A survey of people aged 15-16 years carried out in the UK in 2002 estimated that more than 10% of girls and more than 3% of boys had self-harmed in the previous year.

In most cases, people who self-harm do it to help them cope with unbearable and overwhelming emotional issues, 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 or borderline personality disorder  

These issues can lead to a build-up of intense feelings of anger, hopelessness and self-hatred.

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.

Read more about the causes of self-harm.

Types and signs of self-harm

There are many different ways people can intentionally harm themselves, such as:

People often try to keep self-harm a secret because of shame or fear of discovery. For example, they may cover up their skin and avoid discussing the problem.

Therefore, it is often up to close family and friends to notice when somebody is self-harming, and to approach the subject with care and understanding. The signs may include unexplained injuries and signs of depression or low self-esteem.

Someone who is self-harming can seriously hurt themself, so it is important that they speak to a GP about the underlying issue and request treatment or therapy that is likely to help them.

Read more about the signs of self-harm.

Page last reviewed: 29/07/2013

Next review due: 29/07/2015

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Comments

The 52 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Lavinia999 said on 17 September 2014

I am interested in going into a career of helping people. I use to self-harm from 16-18 off and on. I've been on a number of anti-depressants in my life. They just numb you from the pain you feel inside. I think anti-depressants should be a temporary thing. I wish I had chosen counselling over tablets but at the time having the tablets seemed far easier then talking to someone about my feelings. I used cutting myself as a coping mechanism. When I first did it I thought I must be mad and kept it a secret until my partner found out. I couldn't cope with living at home. I felt trapped. I knew if I didn't get out I was going to kill myself. I didn't want that so the second time I got kicked out I didn't come back and moved into a hostel and now I am at University. I use to do my college work every single day. I would come in on my days off and i would even go to the local library. Basically I lived at college I didn't want to go home. It got me top marks in the end. But it helped me to block things out so while there would be shouting all around me I would just block it out by doing my college work in my bedroom and forcing myself to concentrate. I would write all of my work by hand then I would go to my college library to type it up. My past has made me a stronger person. I still get depressed but now I tell myself each day before I go to sleep what are your plans for tomorrow ? I aim to do at least one positive thing each day. We only have one life. Do you want to live the life you want or live the life you don't want because living the life you don't want isn't living. Being depressed doesn't make you weak, it doesn't mean its time to give up. You can only get better if you try, set yourself little goals even if it sounds silly. I use to write a list of what im going to do today. If your suffering don't suffer in silence. Talk to someone who has been through what you have been through and have overcome it. Trust me it'll help, your not alone.

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freefromharm said on 06 September 2014

As a former self-harmer; (not harmed for nearly ten years), I'd encourage anyone who is caught in this cycle to stop believing the myth (probably fed by peers/society) that they are worthless. It's nothing more than a deeply embedded subconscious lie. Acknowledge it, identify it as a lie, then ruthlessly & repeatedly take pleasure in rejecting it for what it is. Keep calm & don't self harm!!! Peace = )

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peace dream said on 05 August 2014

I told my counsellor i was on a death wish and no one cared, in fact the manager accepted my request to deregister and have no GP at a time i was severely depressed which told me the truth that i am worthless and that no one cares

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runwellian said on 25 July 2014

Why is self harm considered to be an activity of young folk?
I know many folk in retirement that self harm on a regular basis but it appears as if they don't matter, maybe we don't!

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runwellian said on 20 July 2014

Like mental illness, self harm is a dirty word.
I have self harmed since I was nine years old way back in the 50's when it was unheard of. I am now past 70, still alive, very healthy and still cut / self harm.

Too much is made of this issue ... smokers damage their lungs but 'ciggy's' are still ons ale, booze damages the liver but freely available, I cut and everyone goes hysterical.

I find those that really cannot cope are nursing staff, they panic, psychiatrists only have time to write out your next script, at ward level staff are too busy ticking boxes, and when we really need to talk, who is there to listen?

Who cam up with the idea that I can talk about how I feel at a set time in a set location ... barmy to say the least!

I learned to have some control over my self harm by working at my local university, talking to new student nurses and other during their training. It was a form of psychotherapy for me, I was in control, I could say as much as much or as little as I wanted to and the student have all said how much they benefitted from hearing my story.

There are many groups that would welcome self harmers to do short talks, MIND, Rethink etc. and really does help.

My university gave me a Honorary Fellowship for the work I do with them, they accept that self harm is how I cope, and students go to work on wards with a much enlightened view of patients once seen as attention seekers!

I love the work I do, it has made me feel valued, boosted my self confidence and given me a new lease of life!

Do I still self harm ... of course I do, but is is no longer a big issue!

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robert110 said on 20 July 2014

im 38 and after many years of not cutting mysely, I did last night. it makes me feel better but i have started taking sytalopram anti depressant tablets, so why after all these years im back to cutting myself? what is going ob.

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deepak12k said on 05 May 2014

For those of you commenting below with problems, as a training health professional please express you problems so we can help you. Visit your GP, and if they are not helping, dont give up and utilize the internet such as organisations;
National Self Harm Network
Self-Harming - ChildLine - ChildLine.org.uk?
Self-Harm Support Groups - selfharm.co.uk

Googling self harm forum will help find you people with similar problems. Please dont let anyone else have control of your life and get you to devalue yourself.

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1347 said on 03 May 2014

Why is '(bulimia nervosa') written next to a description of binge-eating behaviour in the bullet-point section under 'Types and signs of self harm'? Bulimia involves purging, without that important part it is Binge Eating Disorder or Compulsive Overeating.

It's a bit worrying that NHS information pages are making these sorts of mistakes.

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Just_Neena said on 20 April 2014

I feel sorry for all those people who thought they had to self harm to make themselves better. The NHS should help them not turn away and it honestly shocks me at how many people were turned down by them, it's sick and inhumane. I personally have never self harmed and don't plan to but I need some serious advice.
I recently found out that one of my best friends since reception has started self harming because of bullying since her start in high school, she is 13. She doesn't know that I know and I'm not sure what I should do. I really need to help her because I don't want her hurting but I don't know how. We live in different counties too, I moved to Australia from England so I can only FaceTime and text her. I am so confused on what I can do?
Please help me.

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Zara18 said on 27 March 2014

I'm 36 and i cut myself. I wondered if anyone else is of the similar age and selfharms? I feel so low and alone and to be honest a bit of a freak. Everyone always sees selfharm as a teenage thing which just reinforces how i feel. My doctor and therapist have been really good but i always feel so stupid as i don't think they know how to react to me as i'm not a teenager.

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Sad smiler said on 11 March 2014

I self harm, have done since I was at school, I'm 28 now. Last episode was yesterday, my social situation got on top of me, I realised I don't love my husband any more. However he told me he would take my children and now I have terror on my shoulders... Vicious cycle.

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kpopsuperjunior said on 20 January 2014

hey I'm 16 and I self harm , I feel like I cant talk to my counsellor at all because she doesn't listen and I don't know who I can talk to anymore. Most people who are "close" to me judge me in way that I continue to self harm and so now I don't talk to anyone not even my own family and it upsets me everyday. Its gotten to a point where I feel alone all the time.

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purplewheels said on 29 November 2013

bexlife, you can go to your GP at your age and he must respect your patient confidentiality. No one deserves the pain that we experience either through the cause of our self-harm or the the pain our SH causes when we do it.

I used to self-harm but have not done it for over 10 years now. I have had a phoenix tattooed over my worst scars because even though they can still be seen, the tattoo shows that I have risen from the flames and pain of my life to a new life where I have more power to decide my own destiny.

There are some local places that provide counselling for people your age, I don't know where you are so I can't help on that one but it is something that you might talk about with your GP. Don't be scared to do that and don't be too scared to go for counselling either, it was what helped me in the long run.

Best wishes

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bexlife said on 26 October 2013

Hey I'm 14 years old and I self harm I find it the only way to cope I think I desearve the pain it started last year when I was getting bullied at school I want to get help but I'm afraid people will thing I'm an attention seeker I don't want to tell my mum or aanybody because I find it hard to trust them because everyone I truat seems to hurt me I would go to the doctors but I don't think I can go on my own at my age xx

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User792343 said on 01 August 2013

It would be useful to have information on people who repeat the cycle of self harm and how we can help treat it, as well as why people repeat this cycle.

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skbrowne said on 23 July 2013

The experiences related here sadden me deeply, and make me realise how lucky I have been. Although I received poor mental health care whilst living in Trowbridge (for three years) the majority of the care I have had has been kind, compassionate and sympathetic.
I started having mental health problems and self-harming aged around twelve: at eighteen I was put on anti-depressants for the first time and am now 31 and diagnosed with bipolar and mild borderline personality disorder. My GP, psychiatrist and mental health nurse (all NHS) have been excellent over the years: supportive, understanding, non-judgemental and deeply compassionate. When I've gone to my local minor injuries unit for self-inflicted cuts, the nurses I've seen there have also been brilliant. I always knew I was lucky to have such people in my life, but reading these comments has made me realise just how lucky I am.
I found this page looking for treatments for itchy scars - from cutting - and, having had no luck on the internet, have no qualms about talking to my GP about it when I next see her. I know that she will be compassionate about my problem and won't judge me for it being self-inflicted.
I guess what I really want to say is that there are some professionals in the NHS who are utterly awesome and can make a huge difference to people's lives. I am eternally grateful to them, but I have the deepest sympathy for those who have such trouble finding effective help. Keep asking; there are people out there who can and will help if you can find the strength to keep looking for them.

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Cazzawee said on 02 July 2013

I find it hilarious that the NHS pretend to give a damn about anyone. I see someone say they had to wait 6 weeks to see someone? I was put on medication and a 10 month waiting list. If I had something physically wrong with me I wouldn't be made to wait this long. Because its a mental problem it's thrown to the side. the NHS is appalling.

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ami10 said on 21 June 2013

From the comments here, it doesn't sound like people are getting a lot of help. 6 week waiting list to see a counsellor? Not sure how that squares with all the tax we pay into the NHS.

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rhc said on 15 June 2013

I've read all of the comments on this site as part of my attempts to help my clients. I am a counsellor who has also self-harmed in my past. I now work with others to try to help them with their problems.

I want to urge all of you who are suffering the emotional pain that creates the need to self-harm to get help from a counsellor/similar professional. If you cannot afford to go privately then go to your doctor and ask for them for counselling. Be strong and assertive about your needs. Medication may help but you need to understand this on a deeper level too. If you can afford to have counselling privately then do so as you will have much more control over who, how long etc.

The most important thing is that you feel comfortable talking to your counsellor. Try to be as honest as you can. Your self-harm may not immediately stop, I'm afraid there are no guarantees that it will stop at all. However, talking through with a counsellor gives you the chance to be heard, understood and to understand what is behind the harming and what triggers it. You may also work on ways to distract yourself from self-harm. And, hopefully, like it says somewhere on this site, you will be one of the 90% that do stop self-harming!

You will need courage to start counselling but if you are going through enough pain to make you hurt yourself then you can perhaps acknowledge the need you have to support yourself/try to stop this behaviour.

I wish each and every one of you a much happier life sometime soon. I want to also urge you all to not give up hope. For every person/friend/relative/professional that doesn't understand and show compassion, there will be another that does. For compassion is what anyone in your position needs. As I did once too! Find the strength to fight this....



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mummy_bean1990 said on 06 June 2013

I am 22 years old an never used to self harm until i got with my now ex. He was hitting me all the time even when i was pregnant. He didnt care how much he hurt me an so i thought if i hurt myself then i could hurt myself more than he could so it wouldnt be as bad. I went for upto 3 weeks of no eating when he used to call me fat. Still does. I didnt know i was pregnant at the time an he didnt give a toss. I have massive deep scars all over my arms where id cut nyself. One time i did it tht deep i was in hospital with a transfusion. People say to me oh you must be embarassed etc an im like welll no coz i would prefer to hurt myself rather than allow him to hurt me. Stupidly i was with him for 3 years. I still cut myself sometimes and at the minute ihavent eaten for 4 days coz he called me fat etc more than once as usual.

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INeedHelpPlease said on 15 May 2013

My 18 yr old daughter self harms (cuts). Doing it since she was 14. It's my fault. We didn't have the best of starts (I have a syndrome, and severe post natal depression (untreated)). The year she started cutting I had a small brain injury, had a number of huge emotional shocks, had my ovaries taken out (cancer related), and from what I now see, my daughter took the brunt, or at least she feels she did which is the important thing. I realise now she's somewhere along the autistic spectrum, which combined with me and my syndrome is really a bad combination. So many things I wish I'd done differently. My syndrome means I have a particular view of the world. I'm trying to squidge so I can understand her view. She is angry at me/ the world. I have to be less controlling, but not just dump her (she's doing A Levels). We seem to get on well now. We pay for everything as she is not switched onto getting p/t job; we know now we have to let her come to these things in her own time and way. I could force her, but that would be wrong. She's quite privileged in material terms and support (the irony!!). I need to understand how to help her find a different outlet for her anger and frustration (if that's right?), and to deal with the anger. The odd times she's talked she says she's depressed a lot of the time. I'm finding hard to understand as she has a pretty good life; but I have to accept that's how she feels. Sorry. Woffling. I just want to help her. She's chosen a charity therapist, there's a wait time. She finds it impossible to talk about emotions other than via text. I'll pay for private therapy if she wants it: I'd wanted to take her a few years ago, but she wasn't ready so wouldn't have worked. Having read the stories of GPs, don't want that route, it would tip her over the edge. Told her some of my past, trying to at least explain. Not sure it helped. A b/f managed to help (3 mths no cut) but fallen out so cut again. I need insight/guidance please.

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jase1972 said on 06 May 2013

hi all well i have whats call self distivte snydrom bp and after reading the above comment i thought i give my incite to what i do. i had a full rights phyc in Sweden its like a csi in to me where they test you over a number of days. so i am fully aeaw if not more aware than the uk and more aware of my meds as the law in Sweden you have to no what you are taking, how my illness works is that i am no danger to anyone apart from my self and a number of time over there year as i have been told close. yer well in there eyes yes but ours no. it the simple things that push me to the edge , the thought of being a losers failed ects we have all been there so i am no difrent.i do what called as maximum self harm where i find away think to slash my wrist ect, i never put other at risk. the med i am on help in there way but as we all no it not a case of a pill and where sorted.. i do not take drugs i should not don't drink ect so where it come from is from the ages of 2 upwards i was a punch bag for my parents and even in care it was no better.. i think people are very judgmental of us, and for all it seam selfish ect there are reason we do self harm. i do think more needs to be done as in Sweden its amazing treatment , where in the uk the shove you in some nut unit where more damage is done, i just conned my ways out of there as we can do. as i found there was drugs and drink on offer. where was the help. and am lucky know my family have heard what i am saying instead of reading things off the net, as the net almost cost me my life time after time. i think the people like me and others with a mantel health problem are the best to talk things over with, i no expert but have a better incite to what doctor think they know to how we feel, there are not signs it impulse that makes me do.and it no cry for help. say it as it is worked for me. jase

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raggiodisole said on 24 March 2013

When I visited my GP he asked me to try stopping the urge to self-harm (I burn myself, or bite and hit myself hard enough to get bruises) twice in the next two weeks and then come back, but wouldn't tell me what I should do instead when the urge came, despite me asking him directly. When I went back and had failed, he said I should have chosen a challenge I could take on. I, like someone else who commented before me, had written everything I wanted to say down, but despite going through it, he told me that "I don't think you're crazy, you don't have depression or anything like that", and I simply didn't want to get better. (Why would I go to a GP if I didn't want to get better I don't know). Of course it is probable that I am indeed "not crazy" and likely that I'm not depressed if he thought so, but I don't see how that's a reason to take my self-harming less seriously. The thing is, he sounded so nice when saying these things, that I felt guilty for wasting his time since, as he said, I don't have an "illness". I asked, so should I just leave and keep hurting myself until I've had enough and I kill myself? And he replied, yes, it would be sad of course and a very limited way of living your life, but if that's what you want. I left in tears and unsurprisingly didn't go back. I'm lucky to have a very supportive partner and things are looking better. Looks like GPs aren't that helpful, judging from these comments.

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runwellian said on 27 February 2013

I started to self harm aged 9 years, when mental illness was not something anyone talked about. I was admitted to an asylum aged 11 years, continued to self harm!
It is my way of crying the tears that run dry many years ago. I am now 70 years old and still self harm, but I found a fantastic GP who made time to listen. I can go any time without an appointment and he will fit me in.

Over time, it was knowing he was there, knowing someone really cared and tried to understand, someone who made me feel I mattered when it mattered most, that turned my life around. Now I don't have to go in to see him, if I am stressed I can sit outside the surgery, and knowing the folk inside care, is enough to get me through my troubled times.

It is very hard to find anyone that really understands, psychiatrists treat the symptoms but not the cause, many come from cultural backgrounds where abuse is normal (FGM / child marriages etc) yet we are still expected to talk about our backgrounds to male doctors, who haven't a clue what it feels like to be abused!

It took me over twenty years to admit to my GP about my self, and only after I had decided to end my life. I saw him in the morning and broke down, fearing a trip to the local mental hospital was now the only option.

My GP was so kind and caring and with an 'open door' agreement, loads and loads of support not only from him but all his staff, I am very pleased to say I have not self harmed for four years!

Please don't give up hope, you may feel your GP doesn't want to be bothered, or I was jet lucky to get such a good one, but unless you talk about it, it will never go away.

It can be your GP, a close friend, a very close family member, the trick is to find someone that will listen, be there for you and really care!

I go to schools and colleges and talk openly about my background which has been a from of psychotherapy, but at a pace I can cope with. Share yoru experience, helping others is the best medicine!

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samrun19 said on 25 February 2013

I've been self-harming since the age of 13, I visited the doctors and was referred to CAMHS after my parents found out. CAMHS was awful, I was not asked a single question the counsellor only spoke to my parents who told her everything was fine and they let me go without even a follow up. After this and a few other personal setbacks I taught myself to deal with my issues alone, till summer of 2012 aged 17 I reached my lowest ever point. My mood swings and depressive states were unbearable and I realised how desperately I needed help. My GP only spoke about my brother who he knew, then proceeded to tell me "Don't worry you'll get a boyfriend one day then you won't be down" This was after I told him my suicide planning, how I self harm, my hallucinations and voices I experience and every horrible, negative feeling I hold. I even wrote everything down so he could understand it better (spent the appointment crying) He dismissed me and I left ten minutes later, although I did receive a second referral from CAMHS.
After waiting from August to December I finally was given an appointment, over this time I was in my worst ever state and I am honestly surprised to this day that I survived those months. It's now February, after a second appointment only to chat about school nothing has happened. I'm not listened to or taken seriously, I've begged for help, I've received no advice at all apart from being sent a mood diary aimed at 6 year old children complete with stickers to track my mood.... at 17 I expected something a little more mature. My 18th is about two months away, I've been told I won't be seen in this time and when I turn 18 they will no longer see me. I've had no help and I'm shocked how the NHS turned their backs away and their noses up not only to me but the majority of those that have commented.
Apologies for the length of this, once I started I had a surge of rage and couldn't stop

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NomiBoni said on 25 January 2013

I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in 2003. This is an ongoing condition which can effect any person, of any age, from all walks of life.

It was debilitating and took a lot of help, much of which I received from my University, but took the form of a psychiatrist, counsellor, GP, friends and family to enable me to get to a point where it is something I live, cope, and function with, rather than controlling and overwhelming me.

The manifestations prior to diagnosis involved self harm as a self treatment mechanism. I had nightmares and struggled to sleep, so began drinking heavily at night so I could pass out, and not have to dream.

I began to consider my lack of control, especially when I was outside of my home, and the waking terrors I frequently experienced. This led to one of the worst decisions I have ever made, that helped me immensely and yet I will regret for the rest of my life. I began to cut myself. Seemed like such a good idea at the time.

It took many years, but I no longer do it and have not in a few years. My mother died last year and I did not need to contemplate my old form of release. I am speechlessly grateful to my University and the help they provided, the follow up care with my GP then and the on going support of my current GP, my friends and family.

I was shocked and appalled by the level of care the rest of the population receive from the NHS in general. Where they're only engaged with services and referred when the issues are so acute they wind up in A+E, wards, police stations or dead. Where the onus is put on GP's, Charity groups and social services (so overstretched they have NO chance of addressing issues when they begin or manifest at crisis points).

Surely we can do better than this!

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YeahLook said on 09 January 2013

Self harmers going to the NHS are laughed at nearly. I feel sorry for those commenting, we deserve better from the NHS.

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YeahLook said on 09 January 2013

There is a serious lack of support and awful neglect for the self harm patients, I feel sorry for the people commenting here because all have been near laughed at by the NHS

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runwellian said on 16 December 2012

Self harmers are labelled 'attention seekers' yet most folk self harm in private.
We are diagnosed as having a personality disorder when in fact most of us suffer from PTSD

I am now 70 years old and a regular self harmer (cutter) since the age of five.

Self hard is still treated as a 'dirty word' by mental health care providers but I believe this is because they have no insight into why we need to self harm.

On a mental health care ward we are ignored as 'attention seeking' yet I still ask myself why the staff cannot help me before I reach the need to cut!

When I do cut staff ignore us because they feel showing any support or offering care for our wounds encourages us to self harm. Nobody checks to see if the wound is clean or contains any debris and kind supporting words along with empathy is so thin on the ground!

In A&E they suture wounds without anaesthetic, claiming as we didn't have anaesthetic when we cut, we don't need it now!

I would ask all nurses to try and hear our story, to understand what baggage we bring with us from our childhood, and the pain we continue to suffer.

Mental health care is more about filling in bits of paper and doping us rather than spending quality time helping us deal with the underlying issues.

I you self harm and are depressed, or depressed because you are in debt and about to lose your home, the treatment is the same because doctors work from the ICDq0 and the BNF, and with those two books, anyone can be a psychiatrist today!

SSRI's supposed to treat depression so why is folk are on them for years and never recover?

Mental health care needs a revolution, chuck out the BNF and the ICD10 and start looking at real people, one treatment doesn't fit all but to start any revolution, nursing staff and psychiatrists alike, need to start talking to patents, the one skill they appear to seriously lack!

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b9 said on 11 November 2012

i've read the website and it says that any form of self harm is serious and needs dealing with.. but when i do it, theres no risk of seriously harming myself, i bruise and cut myself, but never in a way that need more than a few plasters. i feel like i need to hurt myself 'better' just to legitimise how sad i feel, its like the longer the scar lasts, the more proof i have that theres something wrong with me.

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themelissun said on 16 June 2012

Upon reading previous comments about peoples' experiences with their talks to their GP I am both appalled and one of you. I am 22, and I went through a period of cutting my arms and torso between the ages of 16 to 18. I stopped because it didn't hurt anymore. I have scares littered all the way up my left arm, one of them is large, but not a keloid. They reach from my wrist to shoulder. a week ago I went to see my GP about the possibilities for treatments, to make the scars less visible. He basically just shrugged me off and said there were too many and the NHS, because they're making fund-cuts, wouldn't treat me. He then showed me some photos of large irritated keloid scars, and basically said to be thankful I didn't have them. That's not the answer I wanted, and I have always been thankful my scars weren't like that. My scars, particularly the ones on my bicep, are embarrassing and they make your usual everyday meetings with people a bit fearful, they affect my day-to-day life. I know these scars are my own fault, but I was seriously expecting more than the answer I was given. I am going to try it with all the GPs in the place and hope one of them referrs me to a dermatologist for this. My GP has fallen in my estimation. I hope everyone here manages to get the result they're after, which by the sounds of it, just some acknowledgement would be great.

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giddygirly101 said on 12 June 2012

I went to my GP, and sadly they said they no could no longer do anything but suggest a place to go to for help. My GP didn't look or treat me different, but when she asked to see my scars and I showed her, she visibly moved away from me and didn't even check everything was ok with the healing and stuff. I would still recommend going to see someone about it, I feel so much better. Although CAHMS was not uttered in the whole process until I did something worse than self-harm.

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doordie said on 10 May 2012

I was very lucky with my GP. I went to him and explained to him what had been happening, and he took me very seriously and spent about 15-20mins with me making sure he got everything right, and really listening to me, and then he referred me to CAMHS (now known as CYPS) and they were great to start off with. Now it is time for me to leave child services, but my psych doesnt want to put me onto adult services because they do not take self harm as seriously as child services do (hence why child services is so intense) so I would not get the level of support that she thinks I need. She suggested me going privately, which I think is wrong because we pay taxes to help fund the NHS to help ourselves, and yet when we need mental health help as an adult, we dont get the help we really need. I found that when I was in hospital (for self harm), the nurses are just like "pfft", but the psychs in the hospital are amazing! so I dont understand why the NHS only tends to support kids with mental health issues and leave adults when adults need help just as much as kids do!

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Bradhadair said on 08 May 2012

I've been self harming for about a year and a half. My family only found out recently and things have just gone from bad to worse... I was taken to my GP and it was no help at all... They just confirmed what i already knew. That was 2 weeks ago and I've havent done anything more serious than snap an elastic band against my wrist since. I normally cut myself but I also bite, scratch and hit. I've been slowly getting more and more desperate to cut and I've started lashing out at people... I feel so awful when I do which just increases the need to cut but then because i want to cut i lash out more and it goes round in one vicious circle... I'm in the middle of exams and I feel like I'm stood in a crowded room and im screaming and everyone can hear but no is listening... I just want something to take away the hate and anger and frustration but no one seems to understand. my family think im attention seeking but then why didnt i make it more obvious i say? they dont reply... i just get those obvious little sideways glances that make me feel like im the scum of the earth... i just want to be understood

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NemiForever said on 02 May 2012

The NHS needs to invest some more time and energy into helping sufferers of Depression and Self-Harm. Too many doctors still don't recognize it as a serious illness / addiction.

I'm 23 and have been self-harming since I was 12, and my experience of doctors is that they either simply don't care, or they think you're exaggerating. I was diagnosed as having Major Depression and prescribed antidepressants. I was told I'd be 'closely monitored'. I gradually went up to 50mg, then 100mg, then eventually up to 150mg - and when I saw a different doctor to get my prescription, his response was: "You should never have been prescribed 150mg, that's far too high. I'm only giving you 50mg. No pill is going to take away life's little dramas you know." - - this to a patient diagnosed with Major Depression?? It's disgusting.

In the end, I weaned myself off the pills and started counselling, which helped, but my self-harm habit still hasn't gone. I suppose it never will - but the doctors never bothered to check. Closely monitored? I could be dead for all they know / care.

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Troas said on 23 April 2012

I am 63 years old and I started to self harm last year, so as you see I am not a teenager, although I do have depression. The Clinical Psychologist has been fantastic also MIND, they gave me a Befriender who has been a tower of strength to me. Now I am free from the knife so no more cutting. I was also told to keep the knife clean but I also had the support I needed.
The depression came over a period of time firstly I was in and out of hospital, then my mother passed away then I remembered how I had been abused as a child by a stranger who virtually kidnapped me and did despicable atrocities. Reading all the above comments I felt I had to add my comment. I am so thankful that I have had such good care from my surgery, MIND, Psychiatrist and even my dentist. I am really blessed.

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gabs10d said on 31 March 2012

I was self harming and was seeing a counsellor at the same time. When I told her what I was doing all she said was, "make sure you use something sterile to do it with, you dont want an infection". She made it sound as if it wasnt a problem and that I was making it a bigger issue than what it really was!

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pipkins47 said on 19 March 2012

I went to my Doctors after i split up from my GF who knew i was being abused by a family member she gave me an ultimatum i tell someone about myself being abused or she will leave me and as i paused to consider how to stop being abused without haveing to rip a family apart she had made her mind up she ended our relationship , i was devastated i went to the docs for tablets she asked me why, i didnt mention the abuse to her .anyway she just told me to go home and have a glass of wine, i was feeling suicidal my world had fallen apart and she told me to have a glass of wine,

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cantDOthisnomore said on 19 March 2012

i agree with the first comment, ever since a young age i have suffered wth depression and psychosis , my life has been a constant wirlwind of mental health hospotyals psychiatrists and doctors, after getting sectioned my life personally has gone down hill and nothing i do seems to work for me anymore and life is just becoming unbearable to actually cope with and live for. what can a person do when all they ever think about is suicide and serious self harm, everytime i so much as watch an horror film my voices can be brought on, if i just look at somebody and they look like someone i know who has hurt me previously that can also bring on the voices. before my voices were just aimed at hurting mne now they are slowly spiralling out of control and forcing me to hurt people around me. i know that this is a problem yet it is one thta i am losing against and cannot beat it. truthfully i dont know how much more i can take after everything i have been through i am sick of waking up just wanting the ground to swallow me up! somebody please help me becuase i generally dont think that this is right for someone my age .... if somebody could help me out i would be much grateful.
my best friend killed himself after years of being depressed and after visiting countless doctors and medical teams each time they all sent him away with the same problem, drinking, yet he hardly ever drank and because he could hardly cope with the feelings of been distressed and depressed al thje time he sadly took his life, i am not using that as a disadvantage im just really worried because i feel that the same is happening to me, psychiatrists dont offer the right amount of guidance and support that young people need myself included and the youngsters of today are slowly going through suicide, if this is at all in any way useful that you can help me then please let me know because ir eally dont think i can do this anymore!!!

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DAMNSPAM said on 17 February 2012

I've self-harmed at various times in my life. It started I think when I was young but it wasn't that bad, I'd do stuff like whack my head against walls or tables because I often felt stupid. When I was 8 I threatened to throw myself out a window and the police got called. I think I was quite a moody child at times, apparently I was pretty intense and could be demanding like not going to bed. When I was teenager I started to get more moodswings (which of course is pretty standard) and generally more argumentative, and me and mum were often arguing, and I would lash out at friends. When I was about 16 I started taking small overdoses occasionally. And 17 I burnt my arms. In general I don't cut much, only having done that a few times. Generally my self-harm is considered to be indirect with stuff like risky sexual behaviour (like just being incredibly short sighted and having unprotected sex, or just being in such states that I don't know what's going on) and also through taking a lot of drugs. Sometimes before I do something like cut I feel so spaced out and I don't feel like I exist. At times I think it comes out in just being really reckless like not caring if I get into a fight and loose with someone, or stealing things and not caring if I get caught. Sometimes I feel like a really awful person I suppose I don't have a lot of self-respect. At times I feel so angry with myself so I punch walls, or myself. I've been diagnosed with a lot of things, though I suppose this is mostly behaviour that's to do with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. Sometimes I feel like hurting myself because it makes how I feel into something tangible. I'm trying to make healthier choices, and choices that are less selfish, but sometimes I find myself feeling overwhelmed and then I go back to drinking and acting recklessly or self-destructive. I think mindfulness is helpful, plus anyone who repeatedly should look into getting a DBT skills book.

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Dilute said on 15 January 2012

It's really sad to hear that a lot of you have had no help from your GP at all. I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder and have received help for self harm as soon as I got the courage to mention it to my doctor.
I have had help via medication (trying several types until I found one that fit.)
Psychotherapy
DBT
CBT
and counselling.
I have found all of this very helpful. I guess it depends on the area you live in. All my support was free as well with very short waiting times.

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AustinJ said on 12 January 2012

I have been Self Harming since the age of 8, which is awful as my oldest child is now 8 and I would hate for her to ever go through anything remotely similar, growing up I never had anyone to turn to, the GP thought I was nuts (at 8) and I was never referred to anyone which is sad because if i had been I would have been removed from the abusive home i was brought up in.
I stopped for a few years then in my teens the pressure to be thin etc led to bulimia and abusing laxatives which at the time I just thought it was me being vain but looking back I was self harming, doctors still not interested.
After I had kids suffered post natal depression still no counselling so I funded it myself at 60 an hour but was wonderful. Recently after a lot of stress and anguish I hurt myself badly this wasn't to go as far as it did, but it has and I do regret it, basically I could have died and I have a family member looking after me, the NHS have put me on a 6 week waiting list to see a counsellor, I don't need one in 6 weeks time I need someone to talk to now. However I did get the fright of my life and I can safely say I will never self harm again, my children are the important people in my world and are all that matters, it's sad I needed a wake up call to stop and break this habit. I do believe the NHS need to do more to help.

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LouisaPayne1D said on 13 December 2011

I had the same problem with my GP. I am 16 years old and i went to talk to my GP to get help for self harm. I began by telling him i felt depressed and he immediately inturupted me and asked if i was being bullies and im not so i told him so and he then asked if I had thought about killing myself which i havent but after i told him this he was completely uninterested. I told him i self harm regularly but he once again asked if i wanted to kill myself, which i dont. He then decided i was fine and told me that because of my recent vegetarianism i may be feeling down because of lack of vitamins and sent me home with a letter for a blood test. I still self harm and have not returned to talk to him. Self harm and suicide are two very different things - some needs to make this clear obviously.

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XlockieX said on 03 December 2011

i have been self harming for a couple of years i found it helps me to cope with stress's not good i know.
when i told my then phyc dr, i was self harming i was told by him because i was 35 male and only just started then i wasnt self harming because i dont fit the "criteria " for self harm ie 16-20 female.
so i would like to say to any one out there that dont fit the "criteria" dont worry you arent the only one you arnt a freak. and change you phyc doc if you think he/she isnt lissening to you i did and it was the best thing i ever done

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eaglefeather said on 29 November 2011

i agree that people who self harm don't get any help.
As i am only 16 and i am currently self harming i've tried to talk to someone and they are saying i need mental help. But nothing has been done to prevent me from self harming.
Since i have told this person i feel so stupid that i have let everything get to me.
I have tried numerous things to stop me from self harming, but nothing seems to work.
Ive recently been to my GP and she thinks that i might bipolar disorder, because ive had suicidal thoughts but maybe it is a cry for help, and im just not recieving any help :/

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gmf1979 said on 16 September 2011

I'm a 31 year old self-harmer. I began at 14 when in a moment of anger I slashed the back of my hand with a broken cup and ever since I have tended to harm myself intermittently, mostly as a result of having lost my temper. Generally I punch myself or I punch objects but I also have episodes when I cut myself with knives, scissors or broken glass. On one occasion I was hospitalised and almost arrested and I have a number of very visible scars on my arms and legs.

I tend to cut myself when I have been drinking. I managed to stop the cutting for an extended period after my kids were born, although I never seemed to be happy for long during that time, but started again after I split from my wife. I have never cut myself when my kids have been in the house with me, although I have punched walls.

I have suffered periods of depression where I've received counselling and medication, but I never seem to stick to them. I feel tense and tired almost all of the time, I seem to spend half the day clicking my neck or massaging my shoulder/chest, apart from when I drink or read novels. I feel most uncomfortable when at work as a Teacher or when in social situations where I don't know anyone well. I tend to be very up and down and when I feel down even for a few minutes, after a bad lesson for example, I feel like I'm completely unable to cope and that I have no hope.

Despite all this I'm involved in politics, trade union work and I'm a Governor. Unfortunately I never seem to have the time or energy to do what I want to which leaves me feeling totally useless and frustrated. Sometimes I get suicidal thoughts, although I'm confident I won't act on them as I love my kids too much to be that silly.

I worry about coping as I seem to be stuck in a cycle that stops me getting help. Weirdly part of the reason is that, even though I hate my job, I can't face changing my routine. Not really sure what I want anyone to do about all this but it helps me to write it down. Thanks.

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Sam13 said on 09 September 2011

I'm glad (if that's the right word) that I'm not the only one who has had issues with my GP. I went in to talk to them about my depression and self harm, and honestly got the feeling that she really wasn't interested. She did a questionnaire with me that covered the last two weeks, but as I tried to tell her, it wasn't during just the last two weeks that I had issues. She came to the conclusion that I was feeling 'a bit low' (which is clearly an understatement if you've ended up cutting) and was then more than happy to write a prescription for some anti-depressants. When I questioned her about other treatments, I was given a book prescription (which I've never heard of doing before) and was told that CBT and other 'talking therapies' were pretty much unavailable in South Wales, which is why they plug the books. Apparently I should read the book I was prescribed (which has a waiting list) and go back in a month to see how I am then. But now I wonder if I'm actually as bad as I think, and feel kind of stupid for going in about it at all - I can read a book of my own accord if that's the route I want to take, I was looking for more structured help, not just drugs, as I want to fix the underlying causes, not just stop the feelings which will come back when I come off the drugs. Now I don't know whether to go back and carry on trying to get help, (it took three appointments over about a year before they'd even think about looking into what turned out be PCOS), or whether to just give up on them for now, and see if the university can give me anymore help, even though it was them who suggested I see my GP in the first place.

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MisterToad17 said on 19 August 2011

Seeing as some of the comments are quite recent things may well have changed, but I came across an interesting story today and as a user of the service currently I have had concerns about how I have been "helped".

Here's a link about a story from 2009. I only post this because there is a mention of a practice of if they phone you and can't raise you, they should phone the mobile and if they still cant raise you they will send a home visit.

https://www.nhs.uk/Personalisation/Registration.aspx?ReturnUrl=http%3a%2f%2fwww.nhs.uk%2fConditions%2fSelf-injury%2fPages%2fIntroduction.aspx%3furl%3dPages%2fwhat-is-it.aspx

On day 4 of my care I was told I would be visited despite it being Saturday. No tel call, no mob call and no home visit.
Considering I was suicidal and have had a major episode today I just have concerns that the system doesn't seem totally robust and mistake proof. I hope I am wrong.

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kitty93 said on 31 July 2011

I went to my GP after reaching what was an all time low almost five months ago now. I was self harming worse than ever and I had a mental breakdown.
I saw my GP and told her what had been going on, she suspected me of having bipolar disorder and told me she would refer me to mental health. Like other people who commented here I still haven't heard a thing, and now I am feeling worse than ever. Because nothing happened I feel stupid for ever telling anybody. I am better at hiding my harming and am starting to have suicidal thoughts. I really need help and I have nowhere to go.
I feel totally isolated and i can't believe that our issues are not taken more seriously. If the nhs can't help then what am I supposed to do?

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User523407 said on 28 January 2011

I agree, i told my GP about my problem, she said i was too young for counseling and nothing was done.

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elfy_p said on 18 June 2010

I agree. The lack of help and treatment for self harmers is worrying. I used to self harm and ended up having to go to my GP as a very deep cut had got infected. GP just said 'oh dear' and gave me antibiotics. I was told I would be referred for counselling but this never happened. Looking back now I can see I was very ill and in a bad place but I did not get any help or support whatsoever.

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billybump said on 22 November 2009

Mental health teams would do well to read this site as many have told me that self harm does not lead to suicide and have subsequently sent away distressed patients who are begging for help leaving them to bleed out to dangerously low levels , even A&E doctors recognise the danger in giving no support to people who self harm and keep them in hospital as they could die. Perhaps the NHS could engage in joined up thinking?

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