Self Harm

Self harm is when someone deliberately injures themselves. They may cut themselves to draw blood, take too many tablets or bang their head against a wall. A person who self harms rarely does so because they want to die, but instead finds that hurting themselves is a way of coping with painful feelings. The person usually knows that this behaviour is not good for them but they have difficulty finding other ways to cope or express their emotions.

If you have ever felt this way it’s important that you:-

  • Don’t keep it a secret (if no-one knows how can they help you)
  • Tell someone you can trust (friend or relative)
  • See your doctor
  • Contact one of the helping agencies in your area.

Just like everyone else, LGB&/T people go through the same developmental stages of growing up, but with the added pressure of trying to resolve the conflict between their feelings and society’s negative messages. Not all teenagers resolve this conflict successfully, and some can begin to hate themselves (see Internalised Homophobia article). One way in which gay people deal with this problem is to self harm. You are not alone with these feelings – most people at sometime in their lives face difficulties and may feel that they cannot cope anymore. Maybe there has been one problem after the other and you start to believe that nothing is going to go right for you or that there are no answers to your problems. During these times you may think that you would be better off dead or just feel too tired to go on living. These thoughts should pass quickly and there is often no real intention of acting on them. It is possible that you feel like this because you are depressed. If these feelings do not pass, please get help. Try to remember that all problems are temporary and you need to take one day at a time – things will get better.

How big is the problem?

YouthNet’s research points to 26% of LGBT youth self-harming, so it is obviously a problem within the gay community.

If you want to know more about self-harm and how to stop it contacts are available below. Otherwise, contact The Rainbow Project who can arrange for you to have an appointment with one of our counsellors.

Useful contacts:

The Self Harm Alliance
Information and advice

The National Self Harm Network



Phone 0800 1111 (free helpline) or visit

Phone 08457 90 90 90 or visit

Local counselling projects:

Gay & Bisexual Men’s Counselling Service @ The Rainbow Project
028 9031 9030 or email

Contact Youth
Phone 028 9045 7848 

Institute for Counselling and Personal Development
028 9033 0996

Holy Trinity Counselling Project
028 9020 0396

New Life Counselling Service
028 9039 1630

Lenadoon Counselling Project
028 9060 0641

028 7126 6999

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