the user-led self-injury organisation.

  • UK
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Despite the media’s frequent portrayal of self-injury being something that predominantly affects teenage girls, at LifeSIGNS we know this is wholly inaccurate. LifeSIGNS itself was founded by Wedge – and he’s never going to be a teenage girl!

Self-injury can affect anybody, at any time in their lives. Gender, age, sexual orientation, race, religion, background – they are all irrelevant. If, rather than considering who might turn to self-injury, we instead focus on who could possibly suffer from the emotional distress that can lead to self-injury, it’s much easier to imagine that self-injury really can affect anyone.

Self-injury is a coping mechanism. Anyone who has anything distressing to cope with might potentially turn to self-injury.

So instead of looking at who self-injures in terms of such things as gender and age, we might consider that there are certain characteristics that some people who self-injure share. These include, but are not restricted to, low self-esteem, perfectionism and high achievement, poor body image, trauma and abuse. Of course, a person who self-injures may experience all, some, or none of these characteristics, as may a person who doesn’t self-injure.

Low self-esteem

Many people who self-injure often talk about intense negative feelings towards themselves. A significant cause of low self-esteem is chronic invalidation by others.

Perfectionism and high achievement

Perfectionists may be very successful in their every-day lives, but it often comes at a personal cost. Perfectionism simultaneously pushes people to succeed to the highest standards, but it also inevitably causes a person to feel they could have done better, or even that they have failed. Similarly to invalidation, this may lead eventually to low self-esteem.

Poor body image

Some people who self-injure have a poor body image. This may, again, be due to invalidation (i.e. consistent comments about weight, looks etc) or may even be due to the media’s attention on the ‘beautiful people’. A person can feel inadequate, or even ugly or inferior. Self-injury may be a way of coping with these feelings by ‘punishing’ the body.

Trauma and abuse

Some people self-injure to cope with traumatic life events, either currently or in the past. These may include bereavement, bullying, break-up of relationship, financial crisis, or physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Other mental health issues

Self-injury may also be associated with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, etc.


  • Lara

    I used to choke my self but then I stopped for awhile, I burnt for the first time today. I get really anxious and overwhelmed and I have social phobia and gelatiphobia which is a fear of people laughing at you and depression. A lot of this comes from my autism. It makes me feel really isolated and lonely.

  • Lara

    I used to chako my self but then I stopped for awhile, I burnt for the first time today. I get really anxious and overwhelmed and I have social phobia and gelatiphobia and depression. A lot of this comes from my autism. It makes me feel really isolated and lonely.

    • Lara

      Didn’t mean to post twice

  • J

    I have been self harming more due to constant stress, emotional overwhelm, caused by complex grief triggers, and having extra physical mental pressure of taking on the role of a carer. Is there a way I can seek help from a different organisation, like self refer, my gp hasn’t been very supportive lately. I need flexibility, not weekly video call appointments.
    Please email with organisations that might help.

    • Nats

      hi J,

      if you want flexible support from others people than doctors, these guys at Missing Peace are great. It’s a peer support group, local to me, however they can do online support and would know people up and down the country, you could try to get in touch with. This organisation started, with Nick, who has has more than enough struggles in his past and himself has tried to commit suicide due to mental health. He used this bad experience and turned it into something great to help people like yourself. The doctors were not really helping and therapy was going to be anything from 6months up to 3 years waiting list, this was not an easy time for him. Peer support is to help make this waiting time easier. They are all qualified volunteers, who do live videos, group and 1-to-1 meetings, online and face to face.

      Best of luck on your journey.

  • Ester

    Whenever I cry hard I hurt myself with sharp objects like keys scissors or a cutter but there no blood does it count as self harm ?

    • Isabella

      It doesn’t matter if it draws blood or not. If you are purposefully injuring yourself, then that is self-harm.

  • Emma

    Sorry to hear that you are struggling with life and you are hurting yourself, I hope you find someone who can help you through those situations..<3

  • Kirsty

    I don’t know whether I self harm or not, I hurt myself but there is no blood or anything like that. Does that still count?

    • Wedge

      Kirsty, if you’re hurting yourself to cope with underlying emotional distress or stress because of what’s going on around you then you need and deserve support.

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