Helping you get through tough times

Truths and myths about self-harm

There are some commonly held myths about self-harm that can be unhelpful for someone trying to overcome it.

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If someone is self-harming it means they want to die

Self-harm is often used as a way of coping with difficult or painful feelings. It doesn’t mean the person wants to die.

Self-harming is just attention seeking

Self-harm can be a way of communicating distress and should not be dismissed as attention seeking.

Self-harm only affects girls

It affects both men and women. The rates of self-harm are higher for females, but the rates for males are increasing.

Self-harming means there’s something wrong with me

Sometimes self-harm is a sign of underlying mental health problems, but it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.

It’s impossible to stop self-harming

It can be very difficult to stop, but not impossible. It will take practice. Having the right support helps.

I can’t even explain it, so I can’t tell anyone else

At first, it can be difficult to explain how you feel, but it gets easier with practice. Maybe try talking with someone you don’t know, e.g. support organisations.

I can’t tell my family and friends because it will worry them

Family and friends want to know and talking to them really does help.

My self-harm isn’t serious, it’s just a phase

Any self-harm can be serious and is worth getting support for.

I must respect my friend’s privacy about their self-harm

If a friend tells you they self-harm, don’t keep it to yourself, tell a trusted adult. You are not a bad friend or betraying their trust. It’s the right thing to do.

This article was last reviewed on 10 May 2017

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