Only Girls Do It

It's just a girl thing, right?

Actually no. That's not right.

Society holds this image of self-harm just affecting vulnerable young teenage girls, but that couldn't be further from the truth. We've said it already and we'll say it again.... self-harm can affect everyone and anyone - and that means boys too. And men for that matter.

Statistics vary - some think that for every 2 girls self-harming we only have 1 boy, but actually the figures for both could be similar. Boys have emotions and difficulties just like every girl their age. The teenage years are no easier for boys than they are for girls, girls are no more likely to have a rougher time at home or school than boys, and girls are no more likely to be more unhappy than boys. Boys have feelings, boys hurt, and boys self-harm.

So why does society tell us it's just girls then?

There's no hard and fast answer to this but in British culture it's more 'normal' and more 'accepted' for girls to express their feelings and show their emotions compared to their male counterparts. Girls are women-in-training and part of that process typically involves being in touch with emotions and having the space to express what they feel. Boys often feel uncomfortable doing the same and this leads us to this place where it's okay for girls and not okay for guys.

That's all very well, but it doesn't help me...

No, it doesn't. Self-harm has always carried a lot of stigma, and a lot of myths, as this section demonstrates. Girls are not necessarily having an easier ride than you, and are not necessarily finding it easier to access support services than you. They are also not necessarily finding it easier to talk to their family members or confide in their friends - self-harm is a very personal experience. There are different ways you can express how you're feeling - it doesn't have to be talking to someone, it doesn't have to involve crying and it definitely doesn't have to involve feeling lonely.

Can you write down how you feel? Can you draw how you feel? Can you take a lump of clay and make a three-dimensional representation of how you feel? Can you write all the negative stuff on a football and kick it for miles? Can you stand in the middle of an empty field and shout it out loud? Can you go through your music and find a track that sums up exactly how you feel about yourself and your experiences of self-harm?

You can start with us - post us a message on the Question forum or write an account of what's in your head and share your story. Do whatever works for you to make yourself heard.

Just don't feel alone. Many boys struggle with self-harm – it’s not weird or unusual to be one of them.