Self-harm: Info and coping strategies for students

Published on June 25, 2024 |Last updated on June 28, 2024

A post-secondary student with headphones on a couch reflecting on information about self-harm

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Self-harm (or self-injury) is when a person attempts to hurt themselves to try to cope with difficult thoughts, feelings and / or experiences. People who use self-harm to cope may not intend to die, but may inflict harm upon themselves to try to redirect their emotions, regain a sense of control, find a release, etc. On this page, Good2Talk collaborates with The Knowledge Institute to share information about self-injury and ways to cope for post-secondary students. You can find a link to The Knowledge Institute’s website to read their full resource about self-harm at the end of this page.

Many factors can contribute to a person’s urge to engage in self-harm, including:

  • challenges with self-acceptance, self-worth and / or self-esteem
  • confusing thoughts / feelings
  • depression
  • difficulties with relationships at home, school, work, etc.
  • experiences with abuse
  • guilt
  • isolation
  • prejudice / discrimination / racism
  • self-punishment
  • shame
  • struggles with identity
  • trauma

If you’re engaging in self-harm and trying to find other ways to cope with your thoughts / feelings, you can consider the strategies that are most accessible to you in the list below:

  • connect with other people for support (e.g. friends, family / community members, classmates, Elders, professors, social workers, doctors / nurses, etc.)
  • contact a helpline and / or the emergency / community services nearest you
  • express yourself through art (e.g. draw, paint, write, sing, play an instrument, etc.)
  • join a support group with other folks who have experiences with self-harm
  • listen to music you enjoy
  • practise deep breathing (tap for a tool from Kids Help Phone)
  • practise mindfulness / meditation (tap for a tool from Kids Help Phone)
  • start journaling (tap for a tool from Kids Help Phone)
  • try diversion techniques (activities to do instead of engaging in self-harm)

If self-harm is affecting your mental health and well-being, you’re not alone. Support is available for people who engage in self-injury and the folks who care about them. To discover more ways to navigate your thoughts, feelings and / or self-harm, you can explore The Knowledge Institute’s website.

You might notice The Knowledge Institute uses different language, style, processes, etc. than Good2Talk. You can always use the words, resources and supports that work best for you.

Are you seeking support to cope with self-harm and / or prioritize your mental health as a post-secondary student? You can contact a professional counsellor or volunteer crisis responder 24/7. We’re Good2Talk whenever you need us!

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