IWK

1.902.470.8888

1.888.470.5888

Emergency: 911
Telecare: 811
Poison: 1-800-565-8161
5850/5980 University Ave., Halifax, NS B3K 6R8
 

Things you should know...

 

What Is Self-Harm?

Self-harm is when someone deliberately injures themselves, by cutting, scratching or burning their skin, banging their head, or other ways of inflicting pain. This behaviour is most common in adolescents and young adults, who use it as a way to cope with painful or difficult feelings and situations. For some, it is a means of gaining a sense of control. For others, giving themselves physical pain provides a distraction from emotional pain. Others may feel guilty, ashamed or unworthy for some reason and use the pain as a self-punishment. 

Self-harm is a very unhealthy coping mechanism that people can find very difficult to stop. While people who self-harm are not generally trying to kill themselves, they are putting themselves at risk of unintended serious harm.

Unfortunately, self-harm is not always easy to detect. People caught in this behaviour tend to harm themselves in private and hide the signs from others – for example, by wearing long sleeves to hide cuts on their arms. 

There are a number of behaviours that could indicate a person is harming themselves. Mood swings, pulling away from family and friends, falling behind at school, or expressing a lot of worry and anxiety, are signs of distress. If you notice these behaviours in your friend or child, keep a eye out for unexplained nicks and scratches, or straight cuts on the arms or legs – often in parallel lines. If your friend or child is wearing long pants and long sleeves in warm weather, this may also be cause for concern.

Additional Resources

If you suspect that your friend or child is self-harming, review these online resources to learn more:

Canadian Mental Health Association

Kids Help

Find a quiet time and place where you can talk to them. Ask them how they are feeling, listen carefully and let them know you are always there to listen and support them with any problems they are having. 

The person may not want to reveal that they are harming themselves, and you have to approach the topic carefully. Becoming angry, calling the behaviour ‘stupid’ or ‘crazy,’ or begging or ordering them to stop, will not help them cope any better with their distress.  Instead, encourage them to learn more about self-harm and offer to take them to see your family doctor or a mental health professional. Explain that they need some extra help finding healthier ways to cope with their feelings. It can take a while for a person who self-harms to let go of the behaviour, but with the proper treatment and support, they can do it.

  • Things you need to know when someone has an eating disorder.
  • Things you need to know when someone is feeling depressed
  • Things you need to know if someone says they have strange thoughts.
  • Things you need to know when someone is anxious or has panic attacks.
  • Things you need to know when your child can't focus in school and is really hyper.
  • Things you need to know when someone might be misusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Things you need to know when someone is really stressed out.
  • Things you need to know when someone is questioning their sexuality.
  • Things you need to know about sexual abuse.
  • Things you need to know when you think your child has a developmental delay.
  • Things you need to know when someone is being bullied.
  • My Child has Autism. What Should I Know
  • Things you need to know when someone has behaviour problems.
  • Things you need to know when someone talks about suicide.
  • Things you need to know when someone self-harms.
  • Things you need to know if someone is in trouble with the law.
 
 

Eating Disorders

What should I know? Find out more »

 

Depression

What should I know? Find out more »

 

Strange Thoughts

Things you should know... Find out more »

 

Anxiety/Panic

Find out more Find out more »

 

Trouble Focusing

Trouble Focusing Find out more »

 

Alcohol And Drug Abuse

Alcohol And Drug Abuse Find out more »

 

Stress

What should I know? Find out more »

 

Sexuality

Sexuality Find out more »

 

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse Find out more »

 

Developmental Delay

Developmental Delay Find out more »

 

Bullying

Bullying Find out more »

 

Autism

Things you should know Find out more »

 

Behavioural Disorders

Behavioural Disorders Find out more »

 

Suicide

What should I know? Find out more »

 

Self Harm

What should I know? Find out more »

 

Criminal Charges

Find out more Find out more »

I need help right now

 

Helpful Websites

 

HRM & NS Resources