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The Public Health Agency (PHA) is using Self-Harm Awareness Day (1 March) as an opportunity to encourage people who are affected by self-harm to seek help.

People self-harm for various reasons and are usually experiencing severe emotional distress. For some people, self-harm is a way of coping with and communicating their distress but for others it can be associated with a wish to end their lives.

Dr Denise O’ Hagan, Public Health Consultant with the PHA, said: “Talking about self-harm can encourage people to open up about their feelings and seek help, which can be the beginning of their journey to recovery.”

“If families or friends become aware that someone is harming themselves, they should encourage the person to seek help. In less urgent situations people can approach their GP.

A new service for people who self-harm and their carers was established in October 2015. The Self-Harm Intervention Programme (SHIP) is funded by the PHA and delivered by community and voluntary sector organisations.

Dr Denise O’ Hagan said, “At present the service is open to people aged 18 and over and the intention is to accept referrals of young people aged 11-17 in the near future. If you would like to find out more speak with your GP.

The PHA has also developed some booklets. ‘Improving the lives of people who self-harm’ is available at and ‘Caring for someone who has self-harmed or had suicidal thoughts’ at