Self-harm is when someone hurts themselves on purpose, usually as a way of coping with difficult emotions. It often begins when a person feels overwhelmed with upsetting thoughts and feelings. Harming themselves physically can feel like a release, almost giving them a sense of relief from the emotional pain they're feeling.
This relief is only temporary though and is often followed by feelings of guilt and even shame. As the emotional pain is still present, the person may continue to rely on self-harming in an attempt to cope, continuing the cycle. There are no clear cut answers as to why someone might hurt themselves as every individual is different. Many people who self-harm say it is a way for them to express something they can't put into words. This may be emotional pain, loneliness or low self-esteem.
There may be certain situations or times that make self-harm more likely, for example after drinking alcohol or at night time. Every person experiences self-harm differently and one person's reasons will be different to another person's.
Some people might talk about self-harming being an 'attention-seeking' act. The truth is, many people keep their self-harming private and feel alienated and upset to hear people misunderstanding their behaviour in this way. For some, there is an element of wanting, or needing attention. They may want people to see how upset they are and offer help. Either way, self-harming should never be brushed off in this way.