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Content appropriate for readers 15 and older

Are you hurting yourself?

Why people say they do this

Have you ever deliberately hurt yourself to the extent of causing damage (bruising, bleeding or leaving a mark that lasts longer than an hour)? Did you hurt yourself as a way to deal with unpleasant or overwhelming emotions or thoughts?

Many young people who end up hurting themselves feel they want to scream from the frustration of not being heard or understood, and they hurt themselves to let the feelings out.

Self-injury can include cutting (with knives, razors, glass, pins), burning, hitting your body with an object or your fists, hitting a heavy object like a wall, picking at your skin until it bleeds, biting yourself, or pulling your hair out.

The most common forms are cutting, burning or head-banging.

Self-injury can be used to block out emotional pain, or to make you feel ‘strong’. It is a way to cope with stress, anger, shame, guilt or sadness. It is seen as a release for emotions that build up.

This behaviour can become addictive and you might find it hard to stop. It does not have to go that far. If you recognise yourself in this article, it is time to get help and speak to someone you trust to share your worries.

(adapted from Dr Eve’s Sex Book: A Guide for Young People)


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