Self-harm, or self-injury, is the intentional infliction of harm on one’s own body.
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Unresolved problems can cause significant distress to anyone, and not just those with mental illnesses. Such distress can eventually lead to self-harm, and even suicide.

Self Harm

Self-harm, or self-injury, is the intentional infliction of harm on one’s own body. Common forms of self-harm include cutting, burning, bone-breaking and hair-pulling.

Individuals who engage in self-harm usually feel helpless or powerless with regard to their emotions, and may be using self-harm to cope with their overwhelming feelings, to find comfort, to punish themselves, or to attempt to gain control over their lives. Self-harm offers temporary relief to these individuals, but they would eventually feel guilty about and ashamed of their behaviour. Warning signs include: irritability, poor sleeping and eating habits, social withdrawal and/or hiding of scars.

Note: Self-harm is NOT about attempting suicide. It is a way to cope with or relive painful or hard-to-express feelings.

Getting help​

If you or someone you know is may have self-harm behaviours, seek professional help by contacting CHAT for a mental health check, or call:

  • Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) 1800-221-4444
  • TOUCHline 1800-377-2252
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health Helpline 1800-783-7019
  • BABES (Beyond Social Service): For teenagers with child, Call 1800-TEENMOM (1800-833-6666) or SMS 8111-3535

Practical tips for managing self-harm behaviours

If you are engaging in self-harm behaviours, but would like to stop, here are some practical tips that you can try:

  • Keep a journal.
    Take notes of what is going on when you’ve felt the need to harm yourself, but did not. What was different? How did you manage to control your urge to self-harm?
  • Engage others.
    Try to talk about your feelings with someone supportive and whom you can trust. Have the telephone number of friends or helplines ready at hand so that you can call and talk to someone instead of hurting yourself.
  • Try other forms of expression,
    or less harmful ways like drawing with a red pen, squeezing ice, or wearing a rubber band and snapping it whenever you feel the urge to hurt yourself.