If you need immediate help and are injured you should call 999.
If you are thinking of harming yourself, you can also phone 0808 196 3779, the Nottinghamshire Mental Health Crisis Line, 24/7. SHOUT: is a free, confidential, anonymous text support service for anyone struggling to cope. Available 24/7. Text NOTTS to 85258.
Talking about self-harm can be really difficult, it might even seem impossible. If you are self-harming right now, try to speak to someone you trust about it. If you would prefer to talk to someone you don’t know, check out the ‘Talk to Someone About Your Mental Health’ link on this page.
What is self-harm?
Self-harm can mean something different to different people. It can look like:
- cutting yourself
- using drugs or alcohol to cope with your problems
- not eating, over-eating, or forcing yourself to throw up
- spending all your time on addictive behaviours like gaming, social media or gambling
- over-exercising and/or exercising when you are injured
- biting, hitting or burning yourself
- hitting walls
- getting into situations on purpose where you risk getting hurt, including fights or risky sexual behaviour
Often self-harm brings a sense of temporary relief, but you also might have negative feelings after self-harm such a guilt, shame or fear of being found out. When difficult feelings start to build up again, you might feel like you must harm again, and it can be hard to break out of this cycle.
Self-harm can become a habit and it can feel scary that you feel this is your only way to cope. But there are things you can do to stop self-harming and get better. And with support, you can learn other ways of coping when things feel too much.
Things you can do to help
There are also lots of things you can do in the moment to help you not self-harm. When you feel the urge to self-harm building, you could try to:
- go for a walk or do some gentle exercise
- distract yourself by focusing on your breathing
- text a friend and let them know you need them to help you take your mind off things
- play music and sing or dance along
- hold an ice cube
- write down your thoughts
- hit a cushion or pillow
- tear up a magazine or newspaper
- make a self-soothe box
- go to a public place like a park or a café
What if a friend has shared suicidal thoughts with you?
Here are our tips for if a friend has shared suicidal thoughts with you:
- You can really help by just being there, listening and giving support
- Be open and honest. If you are worried about your friend’s safety you should tell an adult. Let your friend know that you are going to do this and you are doing it because you care about him or her
- Encourage your friend to get help. You can go with your friend or tell someone that he or she wants to know about it
- Get information from telephone helplines, websites, etc. This can help you understand what your friend is experiencing
- Your friendship may be changed by the problem. You may feel bad that you can’t help your friend enough or guilty if you have had to tell other people. These feelings are common and don’t mean that you have done something wrong or not done enough
- Your friend may get angry with you or tell you that you don’t understand. It is important to try not to take this personally. Often, when people are feeling bad about themselves, they get angry with the people they are closest to
- It can be difficult to look after someone who is having difficulties. It is important for you to talk to an adult who can support you. You may not always be able to be there for your friend, and that’s okay.