“It is estimated about 1 in 3 young people in New Zealand self-harm.”


The technical name for self-harm is non-suicidal-self-injury. Self-harm can involve more than cutting, it can involve burning oneself, punching walls…

Some people assume that when someone self-harms they are attempting to end their life, usually people who self-harm do not intend to kill themselves.

Some people believe that people self-harm because they are “seeking attention” it is estimated that 80-90% of young people who self-harm do not do it on visible parts of their body, so they are not seeking attention, they are trying to hide it.

Younger and younger children are engaging in this, we have had 6-year-olds in New Zealand who have self-harmed.

Between 1/4-1/2 of people who die by suicide have a history of self-harm. (Hawton and James 2005)

There are several main reasons why people self-harm…

To feel something, when depression becomes advanced people often feel numbness or no emotions. Some people self-harm to feel human again.

People who self-harm say it offers relief, often the intense physical pain takes their mind off emotional pain. Please note that the relief often lasts as little as ten seconds. Some people will do it over and over again, this can become addictive.

They may be trying to show people how much emotional pain they are in.

Some people self-harm to avoid suicide, they use self-harm as a way to relieve dark thoughts before they build up to suicide.

The most serious reason why people self-harm is because they are angry at themselves and they are punishing themselves, this can often turn into suicide.

Self-harm is a significant issue, it is vital that parents take it seriously.

If you discover that your children are self-harming, it can be really distressing to discover. As a parent, you need to acknowledge that self-harm is never good, but that you love your children and will support them through this.

You need to find a good therapist who can help. If the professional does not understand or tells you to ignore it you need to change professionals.

Some professionals handle self-harm very poorly, they say you should ignore it. Please note this is not what genuine experts in the field, they all say it is a significant problem.