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How butterflies can help prevent self harm
A member of the CAMHS Youth Advisors’ team shares some creative ways to prevent self harming

Self harm is also known as ‘self mutilation’ or ‘self destruction’. It is a way that some people ‘deal’ with their emotions.

They may be feeling numb, and want to know if they still can feel some sort of pain. They may feel overwhelmed and are seeking a way to deal with this feeling. Often the person will not know why they self harm but use it as a sort of coping mechanism.

The most common type of self harm is cutting, along with burning, swallowing foreign objects, taking an overdose of tablets, hitting your head or any body part against something in order to bruise yourself, or sticking things into your body.

Here are some ways to deal with the urge to self harm:

  • Squeezing a stress ball to relieve anger and keep your hands distracted
  • Punching something soft such as a pillow
  • Snapping an elastic band against your wrist, this causes pain but without the scars or bleeding
  • Drawing on yourself with a red marker instead of cutting
  • Distract yourself by doing something that you enjoy
  • Take a walk or exercise, this releases endorphins which will put you in a better mood

There is also another way which is called the ‘butterfly project’. You draw a butterfly on your arm or hand with a marker of a sharpie.

You then name the butterfly that you drew after a loved one. You must let the butterfly fade naturally, so you cannot wash it off deliberately.

 If you cut or self harm in any way, the butterfly dedicated to your loved one dies. This is a creative and helpful way to make you think of who you’re affecting when you hurt yourself.

Written by a member of the CAMHS Youth Advisors’ team

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