Self-harm is the intentional damage of to body, often at times when feelings of distress and anxiety become very intense.

Self-harm, is something that is often misunderstood. It is usually associated with cutting, but the reality is more complicated.

In our work with gay and bisexual men, self-harm includes:

  • inflicting physical damage to your body
  • having unprotected sex, or sex you wouldn’t normally have
  • intentionally putting yourself in risky situations

It is important to realise that this behaviour is not ‘attention seeking’ and that addressing it requires professional help. You should feel confident in accessing that, just like you would for any other health condition that affects your life.

If you are worried about self-harm, either for yourself or someone you know, you can talk to SX and we can help you to access support.

Why do people self harm?

Self-harm is not just a cry for help, it is a way of coping with feelings of emotional distress and anxiety. 

This distress is often linked to issues affecting men in their daily lives, whether it’s social isolation, experience of homophobia and discrimination, or worries about their identity. 

People often use self-harm as a way to relive feelings of intense distress and tension or to punish themselves. More than half of people who commit suicide have a history of self-harm.

If you are thinking of harming yourself or ending your life, you should seek professional help immediately.

You can call 999, or contact Breathing Space or the Samaritans.

Self-harm and gay and bisexual men

Self-harm is an issue that disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men compared to society as a whole.

Younger gay and bisexual men in particular, report self-harm as a way of coping with the pressures of coming out or dealing with identity.