Self-harm Research


What can I do if I self-harm and want to stop?

Get talking.
Try talking to your friends or family. SANE's services can also provide you with support through a number of channels.

Learn how to manage the urge to harm.
It is often possible to distract yourself before the need to harm becomes overwhelming. It can also be possible to substitute another activity for self-harm.

Get professional help.
Your GP may be able to refer you to a talking therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy or psychotherapy. You could also ask about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

Get inquisitive.
Try to become interested in what is going on with you. Ask yourself what self-harm is doing for you, and see if you can work out what kinds of situations or thoughts typically lead to you feeling the need to harm.

For more information, download this PDF.

What can I do if I self-harm and I don't feel ready to stop?

Woman_with_head_in_handSelf-harm safely.
Minimise risk by arming yourself with information about anatomy and physiology, learn to recognise the symptoms of infection and teach yourself about wound care.

Learn about self-harm and what it is doing for you.
Take advantage of the calm and clear moments after self-harm to reflect on what is going on with you.

Combine self-harm with other forms of help.
Therapies, talking to professionals and family members or friends, art and exercise might offer longer term solutions.

For more information, download this PDF.

What can I do if I know someone who self-harms?

Try to create a calm space in which thoughts and feelings can be expressed freely and self-harm can be talked about in a non-judgemental atmosphere.
This may require some pretty challenging emotional control from your part. You need to be able to contain your own feelings sufficiently so that you can focus on the person and their feelings.

Give the person some privacy.
It is good to try and be aware of how the person is feeling and what is going on in their lives. But it isn't good to forget that they are as entitled as anyone else to have secrets and time for themselves.

Acknowledge self-harm, but don’t let it become a focal point.
That someone self-harms isn’t the most important thing to know about them and, although the topic shouldn’t be avoided, it shouldn’t become the centre of all conversations.

Remember that self-harm has a function that is not easily fulfilled by other means and, for that reason, it is not reasonable to expect someone to stop harming overnight.
Making someone promise they’ll never harm again or devising no self-harm contracts may contribute to feelings of guilt and lead to an increase in harm and in hiding it.

Help them to get help.
You could help with getting an appointment and offer a lift or just your company when they go and see healthcare professionals – but always keep in mind that seeking help is their choice.

Get involved in a joint project of trying to understand self-harm.
Help them to question what they learn as well as absorb it. Debating research findings may be a good way to acknowledge their expertise and give them the confidence to begin healing themselves.

Learn about methods, anatomy and first aid.
Some self-harm is lethal and some can lead to permanent damage, so it is important to get an idea when it would be appropriate to go to the A&E. You might also be able to help the person to shift towards less dangerous methods.

For more information, download this PDF.