The person may seem like a happy person on the outside. Don’t assume someone isn’t self-harming just because they seem to be happy.Be aware, however, if someone who is depressed or frequently sad suddenly acts happy. If they seem incredibly calm or happy out of the blue, they may have decided to commit suicide and are happy because they won’t have to deal with problems in their life anymore. If you see someone who is usually depressed seem suddenly happy, check in on them and ask them how they’re doing and the cause of their joy. Just because a person self-harms, it doesn’t always mean that they’re depressed – although they could be. Self-harm is more likely to be a way of managing painful feelings and is not necessarily a sign of severe depression, threat of suicide or mental illness.

You may feel embarrassed, ashamed or feel guilty about your scars. Accepting your scars can be an important part of recovery. The NHS have also designed an app called “distrACT”. This app is to help give people easy and discreet access to information and advice about selfharm and suicidal thoughts. This could be a friend, a relative or another person who self-harms. There may be a local support group you can join or a helpline you can ring.

For some people — and 21% of The Mighty’s self-harm recovery community — snapping a rubberband against your wrist can provide some relief when you’re dealing with self-harm urges. The snap of the rubberband gives you a little bit of the physical sensation in a much safer way than self-harm, which might be enough to get you through. However, know for some people, techniques like snapping a rubberband may trigger self-harm urges, so see what works best for you. Just like watching TV or a movie, reading a good book can be a great way to distract yourself because you can get lost in another world for awhile. You can also try listening to an audiobook as an alternative coping option. It’s essential to keep in mind how the other person must be feeling even though it’s likely that you are unhappy, puzzled, or even angry about the situation and would like to complain to them about it.

Not only can it be distracting, but you don’t have to try and find the “right” words to say what you mean — you can use shapes and colors. You may also find it helpful to draw exactly how you would want to self-harm on paper instead to help the urge pass, though know this can be triggering for some people. Make sure you stock up on art supplies ahead of time and have coloring books, paper, pencils, crayons or markers easily accessible. When the word self-harm is mentioned, most people think about cutting, a very common and increasingly concerning mode of coping for persons in distress. Fortunately, I never turned to cutting until I was 23.

This will be a joint decision between you and health care professionals. The decision to refer you should be based on the assessment of your needs and risk. The urge to hurt yourself may start with overwhelming anger, frustration or pain. When a person is not sure how to deal with emotions, or learned as a child to hide emotions, self-harm may feel like a release. Sometimes, injuring yourself stimulates the body’s endorphins or pain-killing hormones, thus raising their mood. Or if a person doesn’t feel many emotions, they might cause themself pain in order to feel something “real” to replace emotional numbness.

When should self-harm be treated by a doctor or healthcare provider?

Some types of self-harm can be life-threatening, even if it is not done with suicidal intent. Does your friend or relative do something that worries you? Do you want to know if your friend is cutting, or doing any other form of self-harm? This wikiHow will help you with finding out about whether or not someone you know harms themselves. Guilting someone into stopping self harming won’t work, and research shows that forcing someone to stop self harming before they are ready is usually unsuccessful. Don’t take the fact that they hurt themselves personally as it really is not because of you.

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Invite them to talk about it, but don’t push or pressure them. If they avoid the topic, deny that they self-harm or don’t want to talk about it, make sure they know that you care about them no matter what and that you’re there if they need you. People sometimes use self-poisoning as a way to self-harm. This can be things you swallow or ingest, inhalants or toxic substances you apply to your skin. “Self-harm” is the term for intentionally injuring yourself for psychologically driven reasons. This usually refers to nonsuicidal self-injuries, especially cutting.

Your friends may not know what to do to support you. Not because they don’t care but because it’s hard to know how to help. It’s not that your friends can’t be supportive, but adults may have more tools and resources to make sure you get the best support possible.

I was actively suicidal from the stress of battling my illness while also trying to excel in my degree. Soon, that one cut led to many and I found myself with a new problem. Researchers also identified the theme of posting about self-harm in order to communicate the extent of one’s distress (Shanahan et al., 2019).

Be as open as you can and give them as much information about what self-harm is as you can. Providing them with self-injury, self-harm books to read can also be helpful. People are afraid of things that they don’t understand.