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It can be a very lonely place to be in when you’re self harming, but it is more common than you may realise. A lot of people think self harm is either cutting and/or overdosing but a lot of things done in excess could be seen as self harm. Examples of these are: getting drunk, doing drugs, smoking, getting into fghts and getting tattoos or piercings. There are also less obvious things such as rubbing skin, digging your nails into yourself or pinching yourself.

If you’re concerned that any of the above applies to you, a friend or family member, please don’t panic! Self harm can be a strategy people use to cope with what’s going on in their life. Self harm is especially common in young people which may be as a result of so much change going on physically / hormonally as well as all other changes young people are having to face. When young people self harm it is usually a sign that they are having a tough time and need support. There are lots of services in Sussex that can help. Find services here.

Why do people self harm? Everyone has problems during their life, and self harm can affect anyone. Self harm may be used as a coping mechanism, and it is a myth that self harm is always a sign of suicidal behaviour. Some underlying issues can lead to young people harming themselves. We call these triggers, and have listed some in our guide. If you combine any of these triggers with the change that is going on both physically and hormonally for young people, it’s not surprising that it can be a difficult time.

Our Right Here youth ambassadors are working hard to reduce the stigma attached to self-harm and suicidal feelings. We have developed resources that can be used both by young people and those supporting them, to increase awareness, understanding, and communication.

Download our West Sussex Self Harm guide here.

Contact Right Here for hard copies of our guide.

Distraction Techniques 

Some people find it helps to distract themselves if they feel they may self harm. We understand the ideas below might not work for everyone, but they might help you.

Something new

Read a different magazine, try yoga, learn an instrument, do some physical exercise like go for a walk or jog.

Something comforting

Allow yourself to cry, phone or meet someone you care about, sleep, cuddle a soft toy or pillow, or have a hot chocolate.

Something fun

Listen to music, watch your fave tv show, do a puzzle (sudoko, word-search) or pop some bubblewrap!

Something creative

Painting, drawing or writing. Also, some people find drawing on yourself with a non-permanent red marker pen can help.

Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts can feel very overwhelming and scary, but they’re actually quite common. Research suggests that around 1 in 4 young people (between the ages of 16-34) experience feelings of suicide at some point. Thinking about suicide doesn’t mean you have a mental health condition.

Many people worry that because they are thinking about suicide, this must mean they are crazy. It is important to reassure yourself that you are not crazy. People think about suicide for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes, but not always, it’s because they feel it’s the only escape from a seemingly impossible situation or a feeling that they can’t imagine ever getting better. There is nothing crazy about that. Sometimes there are circumstances or situations that might act as a trigger for suicidal thoughts or feelings. These could include loss of a loved one, breakdown of a relationship, money worries, difficult times at work or school, being unwell, or being bullied. Unfortunately, those who identify as LGBTQ+ are much more likely to report suicidal feelings. There is specialised support available if you are LGBTQ+ having difficulties, you can find the support in our guide (coming soon) and by visiting these services.

The reasons behind feeling suicidal are different for everyone and no reason is more or less valid. Sometimes alcohol or drugs can act as a trigger for suicidal behaviour as these also can lower inhibitions and make people act in more risky ways. So, you may want to think about whether to avoid things or situations that might trigger thoughts of suicide and aim to seek help.

Download the Brighton and Hove version of our guide here.

Download the West Sussex version of the guide here.


Keeping Yourself Safe If You Are Feeling Suicidal

It is important to really think about how you are going to keep yourself safe when feelings become overwhelming. This will be different for everyone. Have a look at some of the ideas below, Download our new guide or talk it out with someone you trust. Download the StayAlive app.

Coping Strategies 

Sometimes, we feel so overwhelmed that we do things that cause us harm as a way to cope. Short term coping strategies can be useful to help replace harmful behaviour but still get a similar result. Papyrus have a list of suggested strategies. Go to: www.bit.ly/RHCoping

Distraction techniques

Remember that like any thoughts we have, thoughts of suicide
will pass. Some people have suggested that finding something to distract yourself for 10-15 minutes can help the thoughts pass quicker. Go to: www.bit.ly/RHDistraction for ideas.

Practical stuff

Sometimes feelings can surface because of feeling overwhelmed by a number of different things in our lives. It could be a build-up of lots of ‘little’ worries or concerns which can become tricky to cope with. You could write a list of all the things and talk to someone. Find services here.

Longer term help

If you find that, despite your efforts, your suicidal thoughts and/or feelings are persistent over time, it might be helpful to seek ongoing support. This could be a talking therapy, online counselling or drug treatment. Speak to your GP or someone else for help. DocReady can help you prepare to speak to your GP.