Self-harm refers to a person intentionally harming their own body. It is more common in women than in men.

People who self-harm usually do not intend to kill themselves, but they are at higher risk of attempting suicide if they don’t get help. It’s important to note that the desire to self-harm is not a mental illness or disorder; rather, it is a very strong indication that the person is in distress, is suffering and needs help.

If you have engaged in or are thinking about self-harm, seek help immediately. Remember, you are not alone.

Self-harm often begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Some people engage in self-harm a few times before stopping on their own, but others have trouble stopping once they have started.


Many people cut or otherwise harm themselves because they get a sense of relief or control over their circumstances when they are overwhelmed or feel helpless. Some people use self-harm as a means of coping with a problem. Young people may report engaging in self-harm to fight feelings of loneliness, anger or hopelessness.

Signs & Indications

Examples of self-harm include, but are not limited to:

  • Cutting one’s own skin using razor blades, knives or other sharp objects
  • Punching oneself or hard objects like walls to cause pain and potentially, body damage
  • Burning oneself with cigarettes, cigars, matches, candles or in the flame of a gas fire
  • Pulling out one’s own hair
  • Poking objects into body openings
  • Breaking one’s bones or bruising by throwing one’s body against a hard surface


It is possible to overcome the urge to commit self-harm by learning to cope with the overwhelming emotions that trigger the urge. Counselling and therapy are extremely helpful.

Remember, you are never alone. Regardless of how tough things may seem, help is at hand.

Reach out for support to get back control of your life and emotions.