Understanding more about your body and the type of self-harm you do can help you to think about how to reduce harm and risk.

It might be help to consider the following three areas:

Developing Awareness of What and Where

One way to reduce harm is to learn which ways of self-harm are less risky than others.

This can be about considering:

  • the location on your body

  • the depth or severity of the injury

  • what you use to self-harm

  • the length of time you self-harm for

and whether you can reduce risk by changing any of these things.

Making Small Changes

Small steps make a difference and any reduction in harm is a huge achievement.

For example, you might feel able to consider:

  • harming yourself on a part of your body away from major blood vessels

  • using a clean implement

  • making a smaller injury than usual

  • reducing the length of time you harm yourself for

It is important to consider what feels possible to you.

Different things will feel possible for different people.

Building Your Knowledge

Knowing some basic anatomy so you are aware of places on the body that are safer to harm in relative terms can be part of this.

The basic principles of this approach are that:

  • the more fleshy, softer parts of the body are safer

  • avoiding major blood vessels and arteries, joints and injuring across tendons and muscles is essential to minimise risk of serious injury and blood loss

This resource produced by the National Self Harm Network gives more information on anatomy and physiology in relation to self-harm