Skip to main content Skip to bottom nav

Self-Harm Education [Trigger Warning]

There are some triggering details and words in this post. Please take caution.

Educating others about self-harm, one post at a time.

Self-harm includes anything you do to intentionally injure yourself. Some of the more common ways include:

cutting or severely scratching your skin

burning or scalding yourself

hitting yourself or banging your head

punching things or throwing your body against walls and hard objects

sticking objects into your skin

intentionally preventing wounds from healing

swallowing poisonous substances or inappropriate objects

Self-harm recovery projects:

The Butterfly Project:

when you feel like you want to cut, take a marker or pen and draw a butterfly on wherever the self-harm occurs.

name the butterfly after a loved one, or someone that really wants you to get better.

NO scrubbing the butterfly off.

if you cut before the butterfly is gone, it dies. if you don’t cut, it lives.

if you have more than one, cutting kills them all.

another person may draw them on you. these butterflies are extra special. take good care of them.

even if you don’t cut, feel free to draw a butterfly anyways, to show your support. if you do this, name it after someone you know that is suffering right now, and tell them. it could help.

The Paper Chain Project:

For every day you go without self-harming or purging, add a colorful link to the paper chain

If you relapse, just add a white link to to the chain and carry on the chain without any disruption

Over time the paper chain will grow in length and you can see your progress, and see that even if you do relapse, they are still days you go without hurting yourself. The colorful links.

Over time and through your recovery watch the number of colored links begins to increase, and the number of white links begins to decrease.

If you feel like hurting yourself, look at the paper chain and realize just how far you’ve made it, and realize that if you’ve resisted before you can do it again


DELAY: delay giving in to the urge for a set amount of time. Write down this amount of time and set a timer.

DISTRACT: do an activity that will occupy your thoughts and use your physical energy. Write a list of things you could do.

DECIDE: after the set time period, decide how you’re going to respond to the urge. Write down: advantages, disadvantages, reasons you want to stop, life goals.

You can also try distracting your mind. Do something where you are able to focus your mind on and be physical at the same time whenever you feel the urge to cut coming on.

For example:

Exercise: yoga, Pilates zumba, dance, jogging, and if you have a gym membership go there.

Take a leisurely stroll through a park or even your neighborhood.

If you have a pet, try to teach them a trick.

Watch a crappy movie marathon, or have a marathon of your favorite show.

Take a nice relaxing bubble bath

read a book

listen to loud music and sing along to it and dance around if you have to

go out with friends, or call up your boyfriend and see if you can spend some time together (nothing special just hang out).

play video games

try Tetris, a crossword puzzle, mind games

Coping skills for any addiction, self-harm including:

Need to express pain and intense emotions

Paint, draw or scribble on a big piece of paper with red ink or paint

Express your feelings in a journal

Compose a poem or song to say what you feel

Write down any negative feelings and then rip the paper up

Listen to music that expresses what you’re feeling

If you need to calm and soothe yourself

Take a bath or hot shower

Pet or cuddle with a dog or cat

Wrap yourself in a warm blanket

Massage your neck, hands, and feet

Listen to calming music

Color in a coloring book

Plant flowers

If you feel disconnected and numb

Call a friend (you don’t have to talk about self-harm)

Take a cold shower

Hold an ice cube in the crook of your arm or leg

Chew something with a very strong taste, like chilli peppers, peppermint, or a grapefruit peel.

Go online to a self-help website, chat room, or message board

If you need to release tension or vent anger

Exercise vigorously—run, dance, jump rope, or hit a punching bag

Punch a cushion or mattress or scream into your pillow

Squeeze a stress ball or squish Play-Doh or clay

Rip something up (sheets of paper, a magazine)

Make some noise (play an instrument, bang on pots and pans)

Substitutes for the cutting sensation

Use a red felt tip pen to mark where you might usually cut

Rub ice across your skin where you might usually cut

Put rubber bands on wrists, arms, or legs and snap them instead of cutting or hitting

Cut an apple with your blades, scissors, knife, etc

First Aid:

For cuts:

Apply direct pressure to the area to stop the bleeding. If the cuts are on a limb, hold it above your heart.

If the cut is wide or deep, hold the sides of the injury together

Clean the area with warm water and soap

Apply an antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin)

Apply a sterile bandage or wrap over the area

For burns:

Cool the area with low-pressure cool running water or cool cloths for several minutes. Do not use ice, oil, or butter. Burned areas are weak and may become frostbitten easily. Oil or butter will trap the heat in.

Remove all jewellery and tight fitting clothing as soon as possible - the swelling may make it hard to remove later. If clothing is stuck to your burn, do not try to pull it off.

If you wish, treat with a topical water soluble burn cream to reduce pain. After 2-3 days, you can use aloe.

Do not pop blisters

Wear loose-fitting clothing while healing

Call Emergency Services:

If a cut is spurting blood in time to your heartbeat, you have hit an artery. Call your emergency services and do not remove pressure from the area.

If the cut is deep or over a joint

If you have lost sensation in the area of injury

If you continue to bleed heavily after taking the above steps

If you can see yellow fatty tissue or underlying muscle (will look like a slab of meat)

If it is hard to hold the sides of the cut together

If something is stuck in your wound/burn (in the case of something being in your cut, hold the sides together around the object and do not attempt to remove it)

You were burned using a chemical

How to respond when someone asks you about your self-harm scars.

“I battle with sharks in my spare time”

“I was attacked by an evil cheese grater”


“I’m slowly transforming into a zebra”

Helpful Links:

Feeling the need to self-injure? Please take a look at these posts: 24 ways to avoid self-injury & Alternatives to self-harm.

Check out this support community for individuals who self-harm recover your life.

Help Guide A site containing articles to help understand, help numbers,  “toolkits”, and self-help.

The understanding self-injury is a text post that explains that self-injury is an addiction and the different forms of self-injury.

Mental Support Community A forum to talk about self-harm and how it affects your life.

Here is a  post about understanding self-injury, the reasons why it occurs and the forms it can take.

Here are some Alternatives For Self-Harm

Here are some instructions on how to make a  Glitter Jar

Here are some Safety Plan printable wallet cards

Here are some instructions on how to make a Comfort Box

Here is a master post on coping with urges to self-harm:

Alternatives for when you are feeling angry or restless

Alternatives to self-harm

More self-harm help/recovery links

How to care for cuts

How to care for burns

Helping to calm down: 123

Alternatives to self-harm

Natural antidepressants

How to fade and cover scars

What to say when someone sees

Helpful websites

Tips for stopping


Friend self-harms?


How to tell someone


Credit [x]

Original post by @Jenna, available here
Ported by @JaydenIsHere

  • User Image
  • User Image


    Category Name
    If subcategory, choose parent:
    Category Description:
    Listener Category