Self-harm is a behaviour and not an illness. People self-harm to cope with emotional distress or to communicate that they are distressed. Examples can include, cutting, picking at skin, hair pulling, burning, hitting, punching walls, head banging, taking personal risks.
Self-harm can occur at any age but is most common adolescence and young adulthood. Self-harm is very often misunderstood and people react inappropriately as they do not know how to respond. This can make children and young people reluctant to seek help.
Self-harm is triggered by different factors for different people for example, trauma, stress or anxiety every sufferer will experience different emotions, which can be complex and overwhelming. It is not an attention seeking behaviour but can often be a cry for help and a personal reminder of the struggle the sufferer is experiencing.
Possible warning signs of self-harm:
- Unexplained accidents or injuries on wrists, arms, thighs.
- Keeping fully covered, even in warm weather
- Avoidance of situations where revealing clothing is required
- Sharps objects or cutting instruments amongst a person belongings
- Blood stains on clothing, bedding, towels
- Relationship problems
- Changes in socialising, sleeping or eating patterns
- A breakdown in typical communication