If you or someone you know is in imminent danger of suicide take them to a hospital or call emergency services on 119.  If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, contact the following list of mental health hospitals which are available to provide crisis support.

  1. RSJ Amino Gondohutomo Semarang: (024) 6722565
  2. RSJ Marzoeki Mahdi Bogor: (0251) 8324024, 8324025, 8320467
  3. RSJ Soeharto Heerdjan Jakarta: (021) 5682841
  4. RSJ Prof Dr Soerojo Magelang: (0293) 363601
  5. RSJ Radjiman Wediodiningrat Malang: (0341) 423444

What is self-harm?

Self-harm is any behaviour that deliberately intends to cause pain or injury to oneself. It does not always suggest an intent of suicide, but is rather a way of trying to cope with intense emotional pain, negative thoughts, feelings or memories. Self-harm is relatively common and usually begins in adolescence. 

Examples of self-harm behaviours may include:

  • Cutting the skin with sharp objects
  • Overdosing on medication or self-poisoning
  • Burning the skin
  • Hitting oneself with fists or another object
  • Punching walls or other objects
  • Binge eating
  • Starvation

Factors that may increase self-harm behaviour

Research has shown that the following factors may be associated with self-harm:

  • A crisis or recent difficult life event e.g. divorce, death of loved one, abuse
  • Mental illness e.g. depression or anxiety
  • Trauma or abuse (emotional, physical, sexual) in childhood
  • Living in stressful and highly critical family environments

Why do people self-harm?

People may harm themselves for various reasons. Self-harm is often a coping response to intense thoughts and feelings of distress or pain. These feelings can sometimes be very difficult to verbalise so people may use self-harm as a way to relieve, control, or express their feelings.

Self-harm provides short term relief from emotional pain, but does not resolve it. Rather, self-harm can become compulsive and dangerous, and may become fatal if not managed appropriately.

Coping and getting help for your own self-harming behaviours

  1. Talk to someone you trust - While it can be difficult, it is important. Speaking to someone you trust can help to make sure you are safe. This could be a family member, friend, doctor, teacher, counsellor or crisis line.
  2. Be aware of when you do and don’t self-harm - Long-term benefits are possible by addressing underlying factors leading to self-harm and stopping the impulse to harm. 
  3. Get help - GPs can assist to find someone specialised in helping people who self-harm, such as a psychologist or counsellor. Such health professionals can help you find better and safer ways of coping with distress. 

During counselling sessions with a psychologist or counsellor, you may learn how to communicate and cope with pain. Many people find counselling difficult because self-harming can often result in feelings of guilt, anger, or shame. It is important to understand that these are very common emotional responses and being open to counselling can help reduce feelings of being overwhelmed in the future. 

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you should see a health professional or call your local hospital immediately.

Supporting someone who is self-harming

Supporting someone who self-harms can be difficult. If your friend or family member is self-harming, it is important to remember that they may feel ashamed or secretive about their behaviour. 

Below are some tips on how you can help someone who has self-harmed:

  1. When talking to the person, try to make them feel safe to discuss their situation. Remain calm, maintain an open attitude, and do not be judgemental.
  2. Let the person know that you support them and listen to what they have to say.
  3. Encourage the person to seek further support from a health professional and offer to go with them if they would like. 

It is also very important to ask if a person is feeling suicidal. If they are, call or visit your local hospital or mental health service to get professional help immediately.

Keep in mind that you cannot always stop a person from self-harming, and it is not your responsibility to do so. You are only able to do your best to support and encourage them to seek further help. Supporting people who self-harm can be upsetting and stressful, so remember to get support and look after your own physical and emotional needs too.