Self-Help For Self-Injury

How can a person who self-injures stop this self-harming behavior? Here are some good self-harm coping skills.

Most people who self-harm want to stop hurting themselves and they can do this by trying to develop new ways of coping and communicating. However, some people feel a need not only to change their behavior but also to understand why they have resorted to harming themselves.

There are a number of techniques that can reduce the risk of serious injury or minimize the harm caused by self-inflicted injury. This list is not exhaustive - different people find different things useful in various situations. So if one doesn't work, try another.

  • stop and try to work out what would have to change to make you no longer feel like hurting yourself
  • count down from ten (nine, eight, seven)
  • point out five things, one for each sense, in your surroundings to bring your attention on to the present
  • breathe slowly - in through the nose and out through the mouth.

If you still feel like cutting, try:

  • marking yourself with a red water-soluble felt-tip pen instead of cutting
  • a punch bag to vent the anger and frustration
  • plunging your hands into a bowl of ice cubes (not for too long, though)
  • rubbing ice where you'd otherwise cut yourself

There are several other things you can do to help yourself better cope with self-injury:

  • Acknowledge that this is a problem, that you are hurting on the inside, and that you need professional assistance to stop injuring yourself.
  • Realize that this is not about being bad or stupid - this is about recognizing that a behavior that somehow was helping you handle your feelings has become as big a problem as the one it was trying to solve in the first place.
  • Find one person you trust - maybe a friend, teacher, minister, counselor, or relative - and say that you need to talk about something serious that is bothering you ("How Do You Tell Someone You Self-Injure?").
  • Get help in identifying what "triggers" your self-harming behaviors and ask for help in developing ways to either avoid or address those triggers.
  • Recognize that self-injury is an attempt to self-sooth, and that you need to develop other, better ways to calm and sooth yourself.


APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 4). Self-Help For Self-Injury, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: June 20, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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