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Bullying and Self-Harm

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This page may be triggering!!

There are hundreds of causes for self-harm, some including bereavement, childhood abuse, family problems, relationship problems and of course bullying. In today’s society, self-harm is a coping method for thousands of people who are being bullied. They engage in activities such as:


  • Cutting;
  • Bruising;
  • Burning;
  • Poisoning;
  • Hair pulling;
  • Over dosing;
  • Punching;
  • Throwing ones body around;
  • Picking, scratching or tearing at skin to cause sores;
  • Inhaling or sniffing harmful substances.

There are different reasons why people self-harm, and not everyone does it for the same reason. People have said:

  • It makes them feel alive when they feel dead or numb;
  • The physical pain makes them forget the mental pain for a while;
  • Seeing the blood lets them know they are still alive;
  • It relieves the tension when things get too much;
  • The blood takes away the bad feelings;
  • Punishing themselves if they feel guilty or shameful;
  • If they are unable to talk, they secretly wish someone will notice so they can help;
  • Its the only thing they can control if everything else in their life feels out of control;
  • It is screaming without words.


Some people see self-harm as the coward’s way out, or attention seeking. People who self-harm are often bullied or taunted for doing this, which can later lead to suicide (refer to Bullying and Suicide). Not many intend to commit suicide, but it's a helpful way to release feelings they don't understand or can't cope with any other way. It is seen as a way of coping with life rather than giving up on it.

Bullying is found to be one of the main causes of self-harm, and I researched Childline (0800-11-11 UK) gets more calls each year from boys who self-harm than girls. The numbers are rising fast and it is becoming a huge problem in various different countries. Each hour in the US three teenagers between the ages or 13 and 19 self-harm, and one in ten people have hurt themselves purposely by the age of 16. Nearly half a million people in the UK have hurt themselves once or more in their lives.

One thing I want to stress, is self-harm is NOT attention seeking. Most people who self harm tend to do so in private and keep their injuries covered. Because of complicated feelings, they often find it hard to tell anyone.

Helping someone who self-harms

From my experience, I know asking for help when you self-harm is very difficult. Some common feelings with telling someone are:

  • Being labelled mad, insane, suicidal, or attention-seeking;
  • Not knowing who to tell;
  • Being worried the person may be angry or shocked with them;
  • Lack of trust;
  • They don't want to hurt other people and feel it's best if they only hurt themselves.

It can be very hard to understand why a person would want to purposely harm themselves, but it becomes an addiction and sometimes, the only coping method without actually killing themselves. If you know someone who self-harms, they will probably insist it is nothing. Don't listen. Take care of them and encourage them to get help, because they do need it. However, don't think that you telling someone without the person's permission will help the situation, because it is more likely to make matters worse. Ask them to research self-harm and different ways of telling people and support them through to the end. They need help and understanding and someone to listen if they need to talk. There are a range of free counselling services available including The Samaritans and Childline. You can also look in the towns phone book for counselling centres/help lines or visit the doctors and ask for advice. There is also Connexions Direct, which can offer ways for practical help in various situations.

If you self-harm

Get help! I cannot stress this enough, please GET HELP. Tell someone: a teacher, your parents, a doctor, a friend, the school nurse, or the school learning mentor. Anyone you tell can offer you support and help you through it. There is also another way: Helping yourself!

First of all you need to feel ready to stop self-harming. If you don't feel ready, you may find the urges are out of your control.

Secondly, what was going on in your life when you began to self-harm? Are the same things still bothering you? Or is it something different? Can you do anything to control these things? You need to understand why you do it. How do you feel BEFORE you injure yourself? Can you stop yourself from doing it? I used to keep a mood diary, I found writing my feelings down stopped me harming a lot. What will you feel like AFTER you've hurt yourself? Will you feel guilt? Shame?

Find something to take your mind off hurting yourself. Write a diary, draw, go for a walk, spend time with your friends, go and talk to someone, listen to music, write (stories, poems etc) count slowly from 10 to 0, focus on your surroundings (smell, sound, texture etc) and breathing slowly - in through your nose and out through your mouth.

If you still want to hurt yourself, find an alternative! Putting an elastic band around your wrist and twanging it gives you the same feel as self harm, draw on your skin in red pen, squeeze an ice cube in your hand (that HURTS) punch a pillow or punch bag, and the list goes on! I regularly use a site called BUS ( to talk - it's based around self-harm and most of the members self harm or know someone that does, so that’s helpful, but can be triggering.


Last of all, if you are self-harming, just please get help. If you've just started get help ASAP because it can get addictive, and if you've been self-harming for a long time, still get help because its something that needs to be dealt with, because it is not normal behaviour.

If you have something you want me to add to this page, email me.

SBN 2005 - 2008