Self-harm is when people set out to hurt themselves or damage their health deliberately, sometimes this is done in secret. If you ever feel like hurting yourself, please remember you’re not alone, ChildLine is here for you.

TRIGGER WARNING This page contain information about self-harm which may be triggering.

I want to hurt myself, what can I do?

It’s often good to think about the emotion you’re feeling when you want to self-harm, this can help you come up with a different way of dealing with it.

An arm that says 'letting it out doesn't have to leave a scar'


Have look at the reasons why people self-harm, do you identify with one of these? You can use these feelings as a way of thinking about some new coping techniques:Feeling angry?

You could try: screwing up paper and throwing it, snapping twigs, running, doing some exercise, squeezing clay, hitting a rolled up newspaper on a door frame, screaming, crying, or a cold shower.

Feeling angry?

You could try: screwing up paper and throwing it, snapping twigs, running, doing some exercise, squeezing clay, hitting a rolled up newspaper on a door frame, screaming, crying, or a cold shower.

Do you feel like you hate yourself or that you’re not good enough (low self-esteem)?

You could try: having a bath, listening to music, burning incense, phoning a friend, writing, painting, or listing good things about yourself.

Do you feel like you can’t control things in your life?

You could try: organising something, cleaning or tidying, solving a puzzle, setting a target time (e.g. saying you won’t harm for 15 minutes, and then if you can last, try another 15 minutes).

Do you feel numb or like a ‘zombie’?

You could try: being around people who make you feel good, craft activities, make a photo collage, focusing on something like breathing, playing an instrument, baking, playing computer games.

Do you feel like you want to escape from your life or a difficult situation?

You could try a hot or cold shower, drawing on the body with red pen, massaging lotion into the places you would normally harm, squeezing ice cubes or biting on lemon for the “shock factor,” or painting nails.


You can talk to ChildLine any time you feel out of control or that you might self-harm. We will be here anytime you feel like hurting yourself and you can talk to us about anything.

It’s hard to stop self-harming

Self-harm can be addictive at times and it can become a habit – a way of avoiding difficult emotions.

For some young people who are not helped to stop self-harming, there is a risk that their self-harm could go too far and cause serious damage or accidental death.

If you’re are feeling desperate or are considering suicide, ChildLine can help you. You can talk to us about how you feel and we will always listen to you – we care about you. We can help you to look at what you would like to change in your life so that things can get better, and support you to find a way of making those changes happen.

We can also help you plan how to get other support if you want it, including emergency help if your life is in danger. You can speak to a counsellor by calling free on 0800 1111 or through 1-2-1 chat online (like msn).

Who self-harms?

There are lots of myths about the kind of people who self-harm, however what is clear is that self-harm is something that people from all walks of life can struggle with. This does not depend on your sex, age, religion or background. The important fact to remember is that you are not alone in this. Please remember ChildLine is here to listen and support you. You can also talk to other young people who have or are experiencing similar feelings on our self-harm message board.

  • Why do people start to self-harm?

    Everyone will have a different trigger for starting to self-harm. Some young people start self-harming after being  abused or bullied, or as a reaction to a stressful event. It doesn’t have to be a big thing- an argument or a situation that made them feel embarrassed or left them feeling upset or depressed.

    Other sites that can help

    Information and advice about mental health
    Young Minds

    Self-harm: Recovery, advice and support – Free counselling available in Larne 028 28273335

    Taken from the Childline website

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