Sizwe is dealing with too much stress in his life and is feeling very overwhelmed. He has been trying to cope, but nothing is taking away his difficult feelings. He’s just told to be strong, which leaves him feeling like no one understands what he is going through. He starts burning himself with a lighter at night

Thandeka is under lots of pressure, she lost her job and has a family to feed. The intense feelings just won’t go away. The only way she feels she can get relief, to let her pain out, is to pull out her hair. She doesn’t want anyone to know, as she feels ashamed, and fears being judged as weak


Both Sizwe and Thandeka are using self-harm to cope with intense emotions. People self-harm in many ways.

Self-harming can include:

Why do people self-harm?

People self-harm:  as a way of coping with emotional pain, distress, or trauma; seeing it as a way of turning emotional pain, which is invisible, into physical pain, which they can see.

Life is filled with difficult experiences, which is why it’s normal to experience difficult feelings. While self-harm may feel like it offers some relief, it is not the solution. Learning to manage and tolerate intense feelings without engaging in self-harm is a better way to manage your mental health.

Tips for coping with self-harm