Self-harm is when a person deliberately and intentionally harms their own bodies in any way. Opposite of what many may think, people who commit self-harm are not necessarily suicidal; nor are these people seeking attention. Actually, people who self-harm usually hide their self-inflicted wounds. People who self-harm are seeking a way to deal with stresses and do not want to die.

People who have emotions, stress, and anxiety and cannot find a way to release these feeling is the type of people who may self-harm. The self-harm is their way of releasing their feelings.

A person is also more likely to self-harm if they suffer from a mental illness. Seeking help for mental illness is the first step in how to stop self-harm.

How to Stop Self-Harm for Yourself


What Are You Feeling?

First, and foremost, you need to stop and really think about what you are feeling. Are you justifiably angry? Is something specific causing you depression? Do certain situations make you anxious? Is there something pressing you that you are afraid to, or embarrassed to, tell someone else? Understanding the underlying reason, or reasons, for what you are feeling is the most important way to help you know how to stop self-harm. Write these feelings and reasons down. Getting them out in the open, even if it is just you reading them, can be a great stress-reliever! Many people even turn these feelings into poetry. Get creative, if that helps!


Communicate Your Feelings

Once you know the “why” behind your emotions, try talking to a trusted friend or an anonymous source. Talking can not only release your emotions from your own mind but, may also help you be able to see your issues from a different perspective.


Distraction and Detour

If there are specific situations that, or even certain people who, cause you to want to inflict harm upon yourself, find a way to get around them. If at all possible, find a way to detour around, and completely avoid, any situations or people, who make you want to harm yourself. If there is no way to avoid these situations, or people, find a way to distract yourself from them. Find a different place to focus your mind. Situations do not last forever. Find a different place to set your mind while in the midst of a situation that makes you want to harm yourself.


Do Something Different

As I just stated, situations do not last forever. This statement also includes urges and impulses. If you have your mind set on self-harm, focus your mind elsewhere by doing something else. As you are doing something else, your impulse will fade.

Need some ideas?

  • Talk to someone else about something else. Interested in a new movie coming out? Talk to a friend who is also anxious to watch the movie.

  • Exercise! Not only good for your body, exercise is also good for mental health! Clear the mind with a brisk walk through a nature trail.

  • Go get a snack. Try one that takes a little time to prepare.

  • Turn on some upbeat music and dance.

For more ideas go to


Make Healthy Decisions

You will feel better, as a whole, if you make healthy decisions! Your body, and mind, know when you are doing things that are unhealthy.

  • Exercise daily.

  • Learn relaxation tips.

  • Don’t drink alcohol (alcohol is actually a depressant!).

  • Stay away from recreational drugs. When using recreational drugs, you do not think things through before doing them. Also, recreational drugs wreak havoc on your body; making you feel weak and useless….no one likes to feel this way!

  • Get enough sleep. Your body needs sleep to function properly. Both your mind and your body need sleep to work efficiently.


Release Emotion Differently

If you are cutting, you are seeking a way to release emotions that you are not dealing with very well. Try a different technique. There are a lot of ways to physically release mental angst.

Get it on paper:

  • Write what you are feeling. Use your words. No one has to understand them except you!

  • Write a poem.

  • Write a story.

  • Draw a picture of what is bothering you!

  • Write a song and sing it out loud.

  • Just scribble. Sometimes just the action of writing can release emotion.

Other physical releases:

  • Squeeze something: stress ball, dough, clay.

  • Rip or tear something up; just make sure it is not something you will miss.


Call Someone

If you are fighting the urge to self-harm, call someone! Call your personal doctor. If you are already seeing a professional for mental health, call that person. Call a friend that you can trust. Call a family member that you can trust. Most of all, be fully honest about your feelings and your actions.

If you need a plan of action, seek out someone, or some people, who you can call on any time. Being active in your plan will be the best way how to stop self-harm because, you will already have many outlet sources when the urge hits.

You can also find help anonymously by contacting any of these hotlines:

  • 1-800-273-TALK if you are about to harm yourself or if you have an emergency situation

  • 1-800-334-HELP crisis hotline by the Self Injury Foundation

  • 1-877-332-7333 teen’s help line

How to Stop Self-Harm for Someone Else

When you know someone who self-harms, it can be hard to understand why they would want to cause damage and pain to themselves. If you do not have the inclination to cause harm to yourself, it will be difficult to understand why someone else would want to. If you are in this position, you likely care for the person and feel that they are too important to damage themselves.

If you are attempting to support someone who either does harm themselves, or has in the past and is feeling like committing self-harm again, here are some ideas to help you be there for them.

  1. If you plan on supporting someone who self-harms, let them know that you are there for them and want them to tell you how they feel. Really let them know that you care enough about them to listen to what they are feeling.

  2. Stay calm and open-minded. You need to be able to understand their position in this situation. Do not be judgmental. Do not let their feelings or their behavior scare you. If you, or someone else you care about, is a negative point in how they are feeling, try very hard not to take how they feel or act personally. Most people who self-harm are already very self-conscious and do not want to hurt others, physically or emotionally. If they feel they are scaring you, hurting you, or making you feel differently about them, they will shut down.

  3. If the person is open to you and want to quit hurting themselves, try to help them focus on different ways of coping. Help them see another plan of action when they are feeling they want to self-harm. Help them see that they can have control over the situation.

  4. Generally, the people who need professional mental help are the same ones who are afraid, or embarrassed to seek it. Assist them in finding the help they need, in a setting that will be most comfortable for them. If you are able, offer to attend their appointments with them.

  5. One thing many people who help others through a difficult time tend to forget is to take care of themselves. Honestly, if you are not your best for you then how can you be your best for anyone else. Helping others, especially those who have any type of mental instability, can be extremely exhausting. If you do not take care of yourself, you could easily become frustrated and even angry at the person you are trying to help. Keep yourself healthy – physically, socially, AND emotionally!

For further information on how to stop self-harm please visit the websites in Reference.

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