Crisis, Self-Harm and Suicide


Experiencing a mental health/ emotional crisis means feeling unable to cope with overwhelming or upsetting thoughts and feelings.
Crisis is different for everyone. There may be different triggers and different ways in which people experience crisis- there is no right or wrong way to think or feel when in crisis.
Not everyone who engages in self-harm behaviour is in crisis and not everyone who engages in self-harm is suicidal.
Not everyone who experiences suicidal thoughts or urges engages in self-harm and they may not appear to be in crisis.


Self-harm involves the act of doing something to cause harm or not doing something which may cause harm (such as not taking prescribed medications). There are many forms of self-harm behaviour.
There are many reasons why a young person may engage in self-harm and each individual episode of self-harm may have a different trigger or reason.

Suicide is the act of intentionally and purposefully ending one’s life.
A lot of young people may experience thoughts about wanting to harm themselves or end their life, particularly when in crisis or they experience a distressing life event.


Common myths about self-harm and suicide;

Myth: People who self-harm are just ‘attention seeking’

Attention seeking is a phrase that has become associated with negative beliefs such as the individual is being manipulative or dishonest about the intention or purpose of their behaviour. This is often untrue and can stop young people from sharing how they feel and getting help. If someone is engaging in a self-harm behaviour in order for others to notice, pay attention or provide care, this should be accepted and responded to without judgement or blame and with care and compassion.


Myth: Self-harm is contagious; they are just doing it because their friends do it

It is unlikely that the sole reason someone engages in self-harm is that their friend is doing it. A young person that is happy and coping with life would not engage in self-harm purely due to real or perceived peer pressure, social status or for social inclusion.


Myth: People shouldn’t show their self-harm injuries and scars

It is important that no one feels judged or blamed for engaging in self-harm behaviour.
Many young people will not want to actively display their self-harm injuries or scars but neither should they be made to feel as though they have done something wrong or to feel ashamed of having injuries and scars.
Young people, together with their parents and carers and other adult care providers (e.g., school staff) should discuss how best to manage this in a way that the young person does not feel uncomfortable but also takes into account other young people’s needs such as within the school environment. It is important to understand that visible signs of self-harm can be upsetting for other young people to see.
There may be times, situations and certain contexts where self-harm injuries and scars are visible e.g., if it is a hot day and someone chooses to wear a short sleeved top. In these instances, the young person may wish to think about, with support from their parent or carer or another care provider (such as a teacher) what to say if approached by others about injuries or scars.


Myth: People who self-harm are suicidal/want to end their life

This is not necessarily true. People can engage in self-harm without any thoughts or urges, plans or intent to end their life. Some people who engage in self-harm may experience thoughts and urges to end their life but the self-harm behaviour is not an attempt to end their life. Some young people may engage in self- harm behaviour which could be life threatening even if they are not intending to end their life.


Myth: The severity of the self-harm reflects the severity or intensity of a person’s difficulty/ distress

It is important to take a person seriously regardless of how severe their injuries are or appear to be.


Myth: Asking someone if they are thinking of suicide or using the word suicide puts the idea in their head or makes them more likely to do it

This is not true; asking someone if they are thinking of suicide or using the word suicide does NOT put the idea in their head, encourage them or make them more likely to do it. People can find it difficult to talk about how they feel so being asked direct questions can sometimes be easier to respond to.


Myth: People talking about feeling suicidal are not intending to taking their own life

This is not necessarily true. Experiencing suicidal thoughts and urges is a unique experience; some will feel unable to share or talk about how they are feeling whereas others may feel more able to do this. Whether someone is verbally or directly able to express and communicate thoughts and feelings of suicide or tries to communicate non-verbally or indirectly that they are struggling in this way, everyone deserves respect, care, support and to be taken seriously.

Top Tips

Ask For Help

Let someone know you do not feel safe or are struggling (a parent/carer or professional helpline).

NHS Mental Health Triage Service
You can call 111 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or visit and speak to the NHS Mental Health Triage Service.

The NHS 111 mental health triage service provides advice, support and guidance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for anyone living in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The Mental Health Triage Team has a wide range of skills, including on the phone brief psychological support and has access to key services and organisations that can offer mental health support to people in their time of need.

This service can also be also used by GPs and other healthcare professionals, the emergency services, mental health charities and any other organisations that come into contact with people experiencing a mental health crisis.

Alternatively you can call:

Freephone Samaritans
116 123
(24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Freephone Childline
0800 1111
(24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

You can also access the Hampshire CAMHS website; Help I’m in Crisis (click here)


Text If You Can't Speak

If you find speaking difficult, there are crisis text services which you can access free of charge:

1) YoungMinds Crisis Messenger

This service provides free, 24hours a day, 7 days a week crisis support across the UK. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support, you can text YM to 85258.

They will listen to you and help you think through how you’re feeling, and will aim to help you take the next steps towards feeling better.

Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.


Follow or Make a Crisis Coping Plan

Follow your crisis or relapse prevention plan if you have one.

If you don’t have one, you can download our template Crisis Coping to fill in (see downloads). You can watch this video which explains what a Crisis Coping Plan in and how to fill one out (click here)

Previous Next

Watch: Previous Next Video 1 of 7

  • How to make a Crisis Coping Plan
  • A-Z of coping strategies
  • Make your own self-soothe box
  • Breathing Techniques
  • Grounding Techniques
  • Stop All The Clocks - A film about suicide
  • Myth Busting About Why Young People Self Harm
  • How to make a Crisis Coping Plan
  • A-Z of coping strategies
  • Make your own self-soothe box
  • Breathing Techniques
  • Grounding Techniques
  • Stop All The Clocks - A film about suicide
  • Myth Busting About Why Young People Self Harm