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People who self-harm do so for lots of different reasons but it’s usually a way of coping with emotional distress.

About self-harm

Self-harm is when someone harms themselves to help cope with emotional distress or difficult feelings. It can impact people of any age, background or gender, and comes in many different forms.

Around one in 12 people self-harm at some point in their lives. Some people who self-harm feel suicidal but not everyone who self-harms wants to end their life.

If you self-harm, feeling worried about being misunderstood or the stigma can make it hard to reach out for support. But by talking to someone you trust, or seeking help, you can get support to stop self-harming, find other ways to cope, and overcome difficult feelings.

It’s important to look after your physical injuries and seek medical help if needed. In case of an emergency, call 999 or visit your local A&E.

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How to tell someone about self-harm

  • Speak to someone you trust, like a close friend, family member, GP or other professional
  • Practice what you’re going to say or write it down if you find it hard to say it out loud
  • Let the person know what you’re sharing may be a shock but you’re looking for help
  • Try to be honest and open about how you’re feeling and how they can help

NHS Greater Manchester has produced information resources for young people and their parents and carers which explain why people may self-harm, how to talk about it and strategies to help young people manage their emotions before they reach a crisis, while highlighting sources of help.


Call the Samaritans on 116 123, they are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


HOPELINEUK is a helpline for young people up to the age of 35 or those concerned for someone. It is open 9am-10pm weekdays and 2-10pm on weekends and bank holidays.


Free online 7 week course for young people struggling with self-harm.


An app co-produce by young people to help manage emotions and reduce urges to self-harm.


A national mental health charity that offers support and empowers anyone experiencing poor mental health, campaigns to improve services, raises awareness and promotes understanding.


A confidential, free helpline for older people that is open 24/7 providing information, advice and friendship.

The Mix

Support and advice for under 25s, including a helpline, crisis messenger service and webchat.

Young Minds

Information for young people about self-harm.

Charlie Waller

Information about self-harm for parents and carers.


Qwell offers free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults across the UK. They offer online messaging support, peer to peer forums and a range of tools and content.

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