Self-harm and Suicide

Self-harm can cover a range of things that people do to themselves in a deliberate and harmful way. Although cutting is the most common form of self- harm, other methods include head banging, hair pulling, burning and scalding, biting, scratching, stabbing, breaking bones, swallowing objects, self-poisoning and overdosing.

By injuring themselves, children and young people are asserting a form of self- control on their life which they feel is otherwise chaotic and meaningless. Self-harm is a way of coping and of channelling frustration and other strong emotions. In the vast majority of cases, it is not a suicide attempt, but rather a way to let off steam.

Mental illness and suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, of any age, of any background, at any time. Like with physical illnesses, people don’t choose to have a mental health problem. And they need the appropriate care to get better. Mental illness and suicidal thoughts are common issues for young people.

It can be difficult to know if a child is suffering as they often keep it to themselves. But there are lots of organisations there to help you spot the signs and know how to support them.

The Samaritans - provide information on suicide and self-harm for parents

NSPCC (Mental Health) - advice on helping a child if they’re struggling with their mental health and suicidal thoughts

NSPCC (Self Harm) - Find out how to spot the signs of self harm and what you can do to help

Family Lives - information on understanding self harm for parents and family members

Coping with Self-harm: A Guide for Parents and Carers - This guide is aimed at helping parents, carers, other family members and friends cope when a young person is self-harming. It includes information on the nature and causes of self-harm, how to support a young person when facing this problem and what help is available.