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Self-harm may or may not mean that someone actually wants to kill themselves – sometimes it is done just as a way to manage difficult feelings and the person does not actually want to die. Other times however, it might mean that the person actually tried to take their own life. Sometimes you don’t know until you ask about it.

You may have hurt yourself on purpose (for example, cutting, scratching or burning skin) or may have had thoughts of hurting yourself. Youth might self-harm in order to find relief from pain associated with their worries and pressures. It’s important to talk about self-harm, even if it’s difficult, so that others can understand what you are going through. If you have hurt yourself on purpose, your injuries may need to be looked at by a medical professional. It may feel strange to tell someone else about what has happened, and you might be worried that others will judge you. Remember, opening up about what you are going through will help you to make a plan about these thoughts and feelings.

Things you can do if you have injured yourself

  • If you are unsure who to call, call 811 to get some assistance
  • Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department if the person you are worried about has hurt themselves
  • Talk to someone you trust about your thoughts and feelings (Elders, parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, counsellors, and/or friends)
  • Call a 24 hour help number (Kids Help Phone, Mental Health Helpline, or the Bullying Helpline). The Get Help tab on this page can direct you to resources to assist you as well as the Emergency Numbers page on the Home page of MyHealthAlberta.
  • Talk to your school counsellor, or your family doctor or another health professional who can refer you to counselling.
  • Talk to someone at a community agency or a member of your faith organization.
  • Recognize that you are in a difficult place right now, and it’s not going to be like this forever. Don’t make any major decisions right now, seek support to get you through the crisis you are feeling.​​

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