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Self harm is often used as a coping mechanism, and it can be overwhelming to find out that someone you care about is hurting themselves intentionally.
If someone is self harming and they go too far, they will need emergency medical attention. Call 111 or get them to an emergency medical centre.
Self harm is when someone intentionally hurts or injures themselves. People usually think of self harm as cutting but it also includes biting, burning, hitting, stabbing, not allowing old wounds to heal or any other deliberate act to injure themselves.
Self harm is often used as a coping strategy - a way to deal with overwhelming or intense emotions, or to cope with difficult experiences or distressing life events. Often the injury will draw blood or leave a scar, but it is not usually the person’s intent to kill themselves. Rather, it's a way of making themself feel better by expressing the emotions they believe they can’t otherwise cope with.
It can be quite overwhelming to find out someone you care about is hurting themselves, but there is a path to recovery.
Here are some things you might notice if a young person is self harming. They might:
If you've noticed scars, marks, or behaviour that concerns you, but you are not sure whether the person is self harming, check in with them and see how they are doing. Show them you care, and that you are concerned.
If you're supporting a young person who is self-harming:
Confidential Helpline: 0800 376 633
Youthline provides free phone, text, and email counselling support. Its website has great information for youth dealing with challenging situations including information for young people who self harm.
An A-Z of mental health issues, including self-harm, with information on the topic, resources, helplines, and support groups.
Youth Beyond Blue is an Australian organisation. They have a page on self harm and what you can do to help. Contains contact and helpline numbers that are Australian based and will not work in New Zealand.
Family Connections is a 12-week course for family and whānau supporting someone who has very strong, hard-to-control emotions, or a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), which can also involve self harm. It is coordinated by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA.BPD) and programmes are available in New Zealand.