Sometimes, people may hurt themselves purposefully to cope with negative feelings and thoughts. This is called self-harm.
Often, people try to keep themselves as safe as possible, and avoid pain or hurt. But sometimes, a person may self-harm (or hurt themselves on purpose) as a way to deal with difficult feelings, thoughts or trauma they are experiencing.
Self-harm is not a mental illness and does not mean that someone is developing a mental illness.
A person who self-harms does not hurt themselves to try to end their life. They may be experiencing high levels of distress and feel like it is the only way to temporarily relieve the feelings of hurt, overwhelm, and sadness that they may be feeling. However, there is significant risk involved with self-harming behaviour. Someone may hurt themselves more than they intended.
People self-harm for different reasons and in different ways. Find out more about why or in what ways someone may self-harm.
People at any stage of life may self-harm. Youth may self-injure to cope with intense emotions, peer pressure, or social challenges. Learn more about youth and self-injury. Self-harm can also be more common for people experiencing a mental illness or are coping with trauma.
If you are concerned that someone you love may be self-harming, find out more about how to recognize self-harm and what you can do.
How to find help
If you are thinking of harming yourself or are at risk due to injuries from self-harming, it is very important to reach out and speak to a friend or loved one. If you are a parent or caregiver who has found out that a child or youth is self-injuring, reach out and have a conversation.
Self-harm can cause serious injury or become a habit that a person may do often and can be challenging to stop.
There are available resources that can help to keep you safe, like counselling and self-help. A medical professional, like a doctor, can support you to find the right treatment path for you.
If you are concerned about your self-injury or someone else self-injuring, reach out to a mental health professional for non-judgmental support. There is help available.
If you need immediate help, call 9-1-1, or go to a hospital emergency room. If you have questions about medical attention, call 8-1-1 and talk to a registered nurse.
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310 Mental Health Support
Provides a toll-free number connecting callers to a BC crisis line, without a wait or busy signal. Offers emotional support, information on appropriate referral options, and a wide range of support relating to mental health concerns.
Offers health and social services for young people to access mental health care, substance use services, youth and family peer supports, primary care, and social services. Services are provided together in a single place to make it easier for young people to find the care, connection and support they need.<br /> <br />Centres provide safe, non-judgmental care, information and resources in a youth-friendly space and work to reach young people earlier - before health challenges become problematic.<br />
Urgent and Primary Care Centres
Urgent and Primary Care Centres (UPCCs) provide access to same-day, urgent, non-emergency health care.
HealthLink BC (8-1-1)
Free, reliable non-emergency health information and advice available by phone (8-1-1), online, or mobile app.