Self-harm - Causes
This section gives information on:
Why do I self-harm?
People self-harm for different reasons. You might self-harm for a number of reasons. These may change over time.
You might self-harm to:
- deal with strong emotions like anger or sadness,
- punish yourself for things you think you’ve done wrong,
- make yourself feel normal,
- make others aware of how you are feeling,
- distract yourself from feelings, or
- get relief from feelings.
You may self-harm to manage feelings
Being overwhelmed by feelings is a common reason that people self-harm. Often these will be depressive feelings such as sadness, guilt and hopelessness.
You may self-harm because you find it difficult to put your feelings into words. You may find your emotions physically uncomfortable. Or you may be aware of the emotions but you find them unmanageable or unacceptable.
Physical pain can distract you when you are in emotional pain. For a lot of people self-harm releases tension, brings relief and helps to relive pressure. Even if you don’t understand why you are feeling this way.
You may self-harm to communicate
You may self-harm to try and show others how you feel. Some people may think that you are attention-seeking. This is a common misunderstanding. Most people try to hide their self-harm behaviours from family and friends.
Some people may self-harm to communicate to others how they are feeling. But this is unlikely to be the only reason behind the self-harm.
You may self-harm to have control
Self-harm can be a way of feeling in control of your body or your environment.
You may self-harm if you dissociate so that you can feel real. Dissociation means that you feel like you are detached from yourself, or from reality.
You may self-harm so that you feel ‘normal.’ Self-harm may be a method that you use to stay in control of your day to day life.
You may self-harm to punish yourself
You may self-harm to punish yourself for feelings or behaviours that you think are your fault. Even if you didn’t do anything wrong, you may feel like you hate yourself. This is a common reason why people self-harm. You may not understand why you feel like this. You may not be able to link
your feelings to something that has happened.
You may punish yourself through displaced anger. For example you may be very angry towards a person or a situation but you are unable to tell the person how you are feeling or sort the situation out.
No matter what reason you harm yourself, there is help available to overcome the feelings you have been dealing with.
Is there a link between self-harm and suicide?
People who self-harm don’t usually want to die. You may self-harm to deal with life, rather than a way of trying to end it.
But self-harm can increase your risk of suicide. You may accidentally end your life. People who self-harm should be taken seriously and offered help.
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