Top of page Skip navigation


What is self-harm?

Self-harm is where someone does something to deliberately hurt themselves when they find things difficult to cope with. It can include things like:

  • Cutting
  • Overdosing (self-poisoning)
  • Hitting (self and others)
  • Burning or scalding
  • Picking or scratching skin
  • Pulling hair
  • Ingesting toxic substances (like bleach)
  • Eating disorders

Who does it?

There is not one type of person who self-harms. It does not depend on sex, age, religion or background. Both sexes self-harm, but their methods may be different, for example males may engage in behaviours such as fighting. Both adults and young people can self-harm. LGBTQ young people, those who have been abused or witnessed Domestic Violence, have been in care / adopted, identify as emo, been bullied or experienced parental substance misuse are potentially more at risk of self-harm or other mental health concerns.

Why do they do it?

People self-harm for a number of reasons. Something might have happened to make them feel bad about things. This could be stress or anxiety, friendship or relationship difficulties, isolation or loneliness, low self-esteem, questioning sexuality or gender.

But often there is no known cause or trigger.

Speak out and get help

If you are worried about or know anyone self-harming it is very important that you talk to someone about it.

If you are self harming, you are not alone and there IS help available and it is very important for you to get the support you need and deserve. Talking to someone can help how you are feeling, your loved ones and close friends are there to support you, if you don’t feel you can confide in anyone then you can always go and talk confidentially to your GP and get medical help.

A Savvy Kernow approved service will treat you with dignity, respect and confidentially. 

More information about getting help / support 

Download our leaflet about self-harm written with help from young people in Cornwall. 


Getting Help Locally

Kooth - Free online support for young people in Cornwall

Mind Your Way - Mental health and wellbeing services for young people in Cornwall

Search for your local GP surgery

National Support Websites

The National Self Harm Network - This forum provides crisis support, information and resources, advice, discussions and distractions.

LifeSIGNS - User-led information and support for people who self harm

Epic Friends - How do you know a friend is self harming and what can you do to help them...

Self Injury Support - Supports girls and women affected by self harm

selfharmUK - Online support and information about self harm

Harmless - Support and information for people who self harm

YoungMinds - The voice for young people's mental health and wellbeing

Childline - For more information about self harm


Need someone to talk to?



SHAC - Sexual Health and Contraception

YZUP - Wise up to Drugs and Alcohol

Stop Smoking Service

Cornwall Healthy Weight

Ask PHIL - support, information and advice on local services

Sunsafe in Cornwall

ABC - Anti-bullying in Cornwall


Childline - a free 24 hour counselling service for children and young people

Samaritans - 24 hour confidential emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts

Brook - free and confidential sexual health advice and contraception to young people

Kooth - free online support for young people

Think you know - internet safety and safe surfing for young people

Talk to Frank - friendly, confidential drugs advice

Services Login