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Support with self-harm

Shout 85258 free and confidential text support service is there for moments when you are dealing with self-harm and need support to get to a calmer place.

If your life is at imminent risk, please call 999 immediately.

What is self-harm?

Self-harm is when someone deliberately hurts or injures their body, without the intent to die. In general, it is a way of coping or dealing with severe emotional distress and managing distressing and unwanted thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

Self-harm can translate emotional pain into physical pain, which people sometimes find easier to cope with.

It’s always important to bear in mind that some people who self harm can also feel suicidal and it must always be taken seriously.

If you are self-harming, you might not have felt able to talk to anyone about what you are going through, and it can feel very hard to ask for help. Asking for support is the first courageous step in finding alternative and healthier ways to manage painful feelings.

What are some of the reasons someone might self-harm?

  • Focus, distraction or control: wanting to distract themselves or regain control over their minds when experiencing overwhelming thoughts or feelings.
  • Tension or release of anger
  • Physical sensation: wanting to feel something physical when you are feeling numb.
  • Expression or documentation: wanting to express themselves or document strong emotions that they are feeling but cannot articulate. This can often also mean that the individual may want to see the physical evidence of their pain: blood, scabs and scars.
  • Punishment
  • Euphoria

Support for self-harm:

There are a number of strategies that can help ward off urges to self-harm and whilst these won’t address the underlying problem, they are hugely important in the journey towards safer means of expressing feelings.


Talking to someone about self-harm can help relieve difficult feelings and reduce the urge to hurt yourself.

  • Text SHOUT to 85258 to start an anonymous, free conversation with a trained volunteer who will listen to and support you.
  • Talk to someone about what is triggering you to self-harm or about anything that’s on your mind.

Distract yourself:

  • There are a number of ideas you can try to distract yourself from urges to self-harm.
  • Get some play-dough or blu-tack: stretch or squeeze it to relieve tension.
  • Hold ice in your hand - the intense feeling can be a helpful distraction.
  • Use a pillow or cushion to vent your anger and frustration.
  • Listen to music you like or watch a film you enjoy.
  • Scribble on a large piece of paper with a crayon or pen.
  • Go for a walk to take yourself away from your triggers - being in the open air can be a distraction in itself too.
  • Listen to music or immerse yourself in Netflix or a game on your phone.

Sometimes leaning in to your problem can help you to be less afraid of it. Allow yourself to experience the thought or feeling and express it by trying the following:

  • Use plasticine, crayons, pens, paint or collage materials to make artwork to express your feelings. Creativity helps us to see things from a different perspective.
  • Write down thoughts and feelings that are distressing you on a piece of paper; crumple the page up, rip it up and throw it out as a way to rid yourself of those thoughts and feelings.
  • Use mindfulness or meditation apps to relax your mind and body.

If you need help with self-harm, our text line is available 24/7. Text SHOUT to 85258 to start a conversation with one of our volunteers.

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