If you know you know…Only kids like me who have the scars really get why we do it. I’m not trying to kill myself. I’m just trying to relieve some of the pain I’m feeling inside. Anytime someone asks me about a mark on my arm or legs, I’m able to lie my way through it…it was a silly kitchen accident…my cat’s claws really got me this time…I was hiking and really had it out with a bramble bush. No one ever follows up with me, so it’s easy to cover everything up. As soon as I turn 18, I want to get some tattoos so the scars can be covered up into art. I don’t want anyone to really know what’s going on because I’m afraid they’ll put me in the hospital. I mean, really, why would anyone do this to themselves? I don’t really understand it but cutting helps me feel better and I can cope with all the dysfunction going on in my family. I get so angry with all that’s happening that I have no control over it. The cutting I can control. 

The website, headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd defines Self-harm as when people deliberately hurt their bodies. Common forms of self-harm include:

  • cutting (e.g., cutting the skin on arms, wrists or thighs)
  • burning the skin
  • picking at wounds or scars
  • hitting yourself
  • deliberately overdosing on medication, drugs or other harmful substances. 

Young people often report that they self-harm to try to manage distressing emotions. Many may feel overwhelmed by difficult feelings, thoughts or memories. Sometimes people can self-harm just to feel something, or it may seem like self-harm is the only thing that helps. 

The website information explains that some life experiences increase the likelihood that someone might use self-harm to manage their distress.  This includes people who’ve experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse and people who are experiencing a mental health challenge. Remember this isn’t always the case, every individual will have their own reasons why they self-harm.

Self-harm might give relief for a moment, but it doesn’t help ‘fix’ the problem. With the right help, people can learn different ways to cope and over time will rely less on self-harm as a strategy.