Self-harm: Why people self-harm
Everyone is different, but some common reasons why people may self-harm are to:
- express overwhelming emotional distress
- express difficult feelings
- feel in control of their lives
Overwhelming emotional distress
In most cases, people who self-harm do it to help them cope with overwhelming emotional pain. This could be caused by social problems, trauma or psychological reasons.
- being bullied
- having difficulties at work or school
- having difficult relationships with friends or family
- coming to terms with sexuality
- coping with expectations
- physical or sexual abuse
- death of a close family member or friend
- having a miscarriage
- having repeated thoughts or voices telling them to self-harm
- disassociating - losing touch with who they are and with their surroundings
- borderline personality disorder
You may not know who to turn to for help and self-harming may become a way to release these pent-up feelings.
Self-harm is linked to anxiety and depression. These mental health conditions can affect people of any age.
It's not uncommon to feel numb or empty as a result of overwhelming feelings. Self-harm may provide a temporary sense of feeling again or a way to express negative emotions. It can turn invisible thoughts or feelings into something visible.
People may also be trying to:
- change emotional pain into physical pain
- escape traumatic memories
- punish themselves for feelings or experiences
- stop feeling numb, disconnected or dissociated
- express suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking their own life
Feeling in control
You may feel it is one way to have a sense of control over your life, feelings, or body. Particularly if you feel other things in your life are out of control.