Self-harm and suicide

Trigger Warning: Some of the content on this page may be activating for some individuals. Please visit or call the Health and Wellbeing Centre if you would like to speak to someone.

Self Harm

Self-harm refers to people deliberately hurting their bodies. It is usually done in secret and on places of the body that may not be seen by others. The most common type of self-harm is cutting, but there are lots of other types including burning, punching the body, or picking skin or sores.

Self-harm is generally used as a way of coping with difficult emotions and situations. Some people self-harm to punish themselves, while others do it because they feel alone. Most people who self-harm are not trying to kill themselves, but there is a risk of accidental suicide.

Replace self-harm with something less-harmful

If you or someone you know is self-harming, these are some other ways to cope:

  • Download the Calm Harm app which has tools and skills you can use and track
  • Try holding ice cubes in your hand – cold causes pain but is not dangerous
  • Wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it when you feel the need
  • Draw with a red marker or pen on the areas you would usually cut
  • Rip up paper
  • Work it off with rigorous exercise
  • Use body lotion or cream and rub this into the areas of your body you want to hurt
  • Talk to someone you trust

Feeling suicidal

The term ‘suicidal ideations’ refers to thoughts that life isn’t worth living, ranging in intensity from fleeting thoughts such as ‘I don’t want to be here anymore’ to well-thought-out plans for killing oneself. It is estimated that between 22% and 38% of adolescents have thought about suicide at some point in their lives.

Risk factors associated with suicidal behaviour in young people

  • previous suicide attempt
  • mental health issues, especially depression, psychosis or substance abuse
  • physical health issues (terminal or debilitating illness)
  • family history of suicide
  • history of sexual, physical or emotional abuse
  • social isolation
  • death of a parent in childhood
  • unemployment
  • rejection by a significant person (e.g. relationship breakup)
  • recent discharge from psychiatric hospital

Warning Signs

  • social withdrawal
  • persistent drop in mood
  • disinterest in maintaining personal hygiene
  • reckless behaviour
  • rapid weight changes
  • insomnia
  • alcohol or drug abuse
  • giving away sentimental or expensive possessions
  • feeling like a burden
  • feeling hopeless or worthless
  • failing to see a future
  • talking about death or wanting to die

Get support

Internal resources

  • Health and Wellbeing Centre: Call or drop-in to the Health & Wellbeing Centre located at Peribolos East Ground Floor (PE101), Bundoora Campus, which operates Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm. The Health & Wellbeing Mentors are available to offer drop-in sessions, provide information on accessing supports within the university including mental health, counselling, accessibility support and learning plans.
  • Emergency: In an emergency ring 000 and then security 9479 2222
  • Use our La Trobe University Crisis Line for Out-of-Hours Mental Health and Wellbeing Support. Phone 1300 146 307 or text 0488 884 100. This service operates 5pm-9am on weekdays and 24 hours during weekends and public holidays.

External resources



  • Beyond Now - Suicide safety planning   is a free safety planning app (created by beyondblue). It can help you you’re having suicidal thoughts and distress.
    Please note: you should work with a health professional or support person to create your plan. BeyondNow is not the only form of support you should receive.
  • Calm Harm – Self-help strategies and tools that help you to tolerate urges to self-harm