Self-Injury Awareness Day: 11 Things People Who Self-Harm Want You To Know

01/03/2016 09:30 | Updated 01 March 2016

Self-harm, or self-injury, is often an under-discussed topic.

"A lot of people who self-harm don't ask for help. You might be aware that you have some serious problems, but don't feel that you can tell anyone – so you don’t talk about it," the Royal College of Psychiatrists advises.

Many people lack the knowledge about how best to speak to or support a friend or family member who self-harms, meaning there are plenty of misconceptions about how and why people hurt themselves.

To help remedy that, and to mark Self-Injury Awareness Day on 1 March, we asked 11 people who self-harm to tell us the one thing they most wanted others in their support network and the wider general public to know:

Contact details for sufferers to get information, advice and support appear at the bottom of this article

  • 1 'We do it to survive, not die' - Angela
    Three Images via Getty Images
  • 2 'People think we do it for attention but we don't, we keep things to ourselves' - Christine
    WIN-Initiative/Neleman via Getty Images
  • 3 'Self-harm is secretive but it's only by talking about it that we can make it less taboo and remove the stigma' - Sonia
    Peter Dazeley via Getty Images
  • 4 'Destructive thoughts and impulses do not discriminate by gender, and I wish I'd realised that 15 years ago' - Brendan
    Martin Barraud via Getty Images
  • 5 'In my mind it never truly was harmful - after all, I was destroying my body in a much more drastic way from my eating disorder. It was the lesser of two evils' - Cal
    ADDRicky via Getty Images
  • 6 'It is a quick, short-term coping mechanism and it's never done as a ploy to cause serious harm to myself' - Claire
    Rubberball Productions - Mike Kemp via Getty Images
  • 7 'It can be really addictive. So if someone asks you to stop, it's not something you can do overnight' - Jonas
    Don Johnston via Getty Images
  • 8 'I wore t-shirts before and after I self-harmed or I would get too hot. I'm not trying to rub anyone's face in it, I'm not trying to be edgy... I get dressed how I want. I don't have to justify exposing my scars to anybody' - Jack
    thenakedsnail via Getty Images
  • 9 'Some people don't understand how much it can control your life. Even if you're not doing it, the thoughts are still with you every day' - Andy
    Saul Gravy via Getty Images
  • 10 'There's so many reasons why someone might self-harm. My relationship with it and how I feel about it is going to be totally different to someone else's' - Jess
    Bernhard Lang via Getty Images
  • 11 'The best thing you can do for a sufferer is listen to them. Just let them talk without assuming anything or interrupting and find out what is going' - Anne
    Nisian Hughes via Getty Images

Some names have been altered at the request of those who spoke to us, to protect their identity

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • LifeSIGNS is a self-injury guidance & support network
  • SelfHarmUK offers young people who self-injure recovery-focused support. You can contact them here
  • HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41

CONVERSATIONS