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Why do young people self-harm?

Young people do not self-harm as a way of seeking attention. This is a myth. The three most common reasons why young people self-harm are:

  • Tension relief – a number of young people are unable to deal with their unpleasant feelings and find self-harm as a way of relieving stress and tension.
  • Self-punishment– young people who self-harm often have low self-esteem and feel that they are worthless or bad people who should be punished.
  • To express distress – for some young people self-harm is a way of showing others how bad they are feeling. They may use this as a way of reaching out to get help.

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Last updated: 24 April, 2018