Self-harm is generally thought to affect between 1 in 12 and 1 in 15 young people, aged around 11-25, at some point. More recent evidence suggests that it might affect as many as 20% of young people!*
Self-harm is a coping strategy used to help manage difficult feelings, experiences and emotions. It is important to recognise that self-harm is different for everyone – for some, it relieves stress whilst for others, it can be used to make a person feel ‘real’ and connect them with their body.
It isn’t always related to anything to do with gender identity or sexuality, but self-harm can affect a high proportion of LGBTQ young people. Although affecting a lot of the LGBTQ, many people outside of the community are also widely affected under many different circumstances eg. Losing a job, bullying.
Experiencing homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying can cause a great deal of distress and can sometimes be a factor in self-harming.
Difficult or unsupportive environments at school, home or work can often contribute as well. Feeling you have to be a different person depending on who you’re around can cause a lot of stress as well, and around 80% of LGBTQ young people who self-harm felt they had to hide their identity in one environment or another.*
Sometimes feeling that you are outside of “normal” sexual or gender identities is enough. This is sometimes called the impact of hetero-normativity (for sexuality) or cis-normativity (for gender).
Feeling you can’t talk about what you’re going through can cause things to spiral further. It is important to talk to someone you trust if self-harm affected you – a friend, family member, GP.
You can find someone to talk to on our Get Help Now page if you need and 42nd Street supports lots of young people who use self-harm to cope (you can get in touch at www.42ndstreet.org.uk). If one of your friends has told you they self-harm there’s some useful tips in the video below.
This short film was created by young people at 42nd Street as part of the “Alex Project”.
This project was set up to enable young people who have experience of self-harm, or who support someone who does, to have a voice and speak out about self-harm.
This film explores both the unhelpful things often said to young people who do self harm and identifies ways in which parents, friends, carers and professionals can begin to better support young people.
“Truth About Self-Harm” is a downloadable guide for those worried about self-harm, produced by the Mental Health Foundation
There is also recent research into self-harm and young LGBTQ people by “Queer Futures” which you can read here
For more videos and resources, check out The Mix website, which covers a big variety of topics around Self Harm
SANE is also a self harm helpline which is open 24 hours 0300 304 7000