Self-Harm Prevention

Self Harm Banner

If you need immediate help because you can’t keep yourself safe or have already harmed yourself, seek emergency help by either phoning 999 or visiting your local A&E

If you are thinking of harming yourself, you can also contact the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Crisis Line on 0808 196 3779 (lines open 24/7)

You can also text "Shout": a free, confidential, and anonymous text support service for anyone struggling to cope. Text NOTTS to 85258 (available 24/7)

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and/or feelings, visit our "Suicide Prevention" page to find support

What is self-harm?

Self-harm is when somebody intentionally harms or injures their body. Self-harm can take many different forms and can include both minor and high-risk behaviours.  It's often a way of coping with difficult situations and/or expressing overwhelming emotional distress.

The severity of self-harm is not linked to the level of distress. Self-harm can affect anyone of any age.

Self-harm can be a risk factor for suicide, but not everyone who self-harms will take their own life or have suicidal thoughts.

It's important not to make assumptions about self-harm. It is important to let someone who self-harms know that it's safe to talk about their experiences.

Click on the banners below to find more information and resources.

  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Crisis Line for anyone who needs immediate help.  
    Call: 0808 196 3779 ( lines open 24/7, FREE to call)
  • Nottinghamshire Crisis Sanctuaries offer free mental health support, information and guidance.
    Call: 0115 844 1846 (Mon-Sun, 4pm-11pm), Visit:
    drop-ins available
  • SHOUT: free, confidential, anonymous text support service for anyone struggling to cope. Available 24/7. Text NOTTS to 85258
  • You can also contact your local GP to be referred to specific mental health support service
  • Harmless provide support for people who self-harm and those close to them.
    Call: 0115 8800280 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)

  • If you are a child or young person who is at risk of self-harm, there is a range of useful information available on NottAlone
  • Be U Notts is a free, accessible and convenient mental health and emotional wellbeing support service for young people up to the age of 25 and their parent and carers living in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (except Bassetlaw).
    Call: 0115 708 0008 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm), drop-ins available
  • Talkzone is a Bassetlaw-specific service, which offers free, confidential mental health support and counselling for children and young people, aged 11-25.
    Call: 0191 953 0943 (Mon-Fri, 9am- 4:30pm), email: Text: "Talk" to 07368 323945

Older adults are affected by self-harm in the same way that younger adults are. Factors such as long-term health conditions, bereavement and isolation can increase risk in this group. The services highlighted below are specifically targeted towards older adults.

It’s natural to be worried about someone close to you who is at-risk of self-harm. It can be difficult to know what to say or how best to approach the situation. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the situation and pretend nothing has happened.

It is okay to talk about self-harm and it may provide a relief to the individual self-harming by enabling them to discuss it openly.

Here are some useful pointers to support a conversation around self-harm:



Try not to panic or overreact

Trying to force changes

Try to be non-judgemental

Labelling self-harm as ‘attention seeking’

Let the person know that you are there for them.

Overly focusing on the physical injuries

Relate to them as a whole person, not just their self-harm

Directing anger, frustration or guilt at the individual

Try to have empathy and understanding about what they are doing

Saying phrases such as ‘this is just a phase’ and ‘it will pass with time’

Let them be in control of their decisions

Making assumptions on why the individual is self-harming

Remind them of their positive qualities and things they do well

Making the conversation about yourself

Understand that there is an underlying reason behind the self-harm

Demanding that the individual opens up to you


  • NottAlone provides useful tips to parents and carers who worried about their children self-harming.
  • Samaritans have put together a useful guide on ways to support someone who has self-harmed.
  • Harmless have a produced a leaflet for individuals concerned about the welfare of a friend or family member.
  • It is okay to talk about self harm (leaflet)


It is also vital to look after your own emotional and mental wellbeing. Supporting someone with self-harm can be a long and emotional process with ups and downs. Here are some useful tips to maintain your own wellbeing:

  • Establish clear boundaries about how much and what support you can offer.
  • Getting support for yourself – Young Minds offers support for parents, and Sane and Self-injury Support run support services for people concerned about someone else's mental health.
  • Speak to friends and family for support and reassurance.

As a professional, you have an important role in identifying and supporting individuals at-risk of self-harm. Therefore, it is vital that you are aware of the support services highlighted on this page.

When signposting individuals to the relevant support, it’s vital to think of it as facilitating access to support rather than just passing on the responsibility. It may be easier to do this in some situations than others perhaps depending on role or location.

Examples of how to do this might include:

  • “If I provide a list of available support shall we look at it together?”
  • “You can read it in your own time and we can review in a couple of days”
  • “Shall we look through this website and see whether anything looks helpful for you at the moment?”
  • “Is there anything I can do to help you to make that phone call?” 
  • “I am here if you have any questions or are unsure about what to do”

Additional resources for professionals:

Young people who self-harm - A Guide for School Staff [PDF] ( 

no-harm-done-professionals-pack.pdf (

Training - Harmless

It is okay to talk about self harm (leaflet)


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