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To Sam

School and self harm

Hi Sam,

i am currently in year 10, I am going back to school after Christmas break in a couple of days. However I am really scared of going back and most nights I stay up til 3/4 in the morning worried about going back. I am scared because I self harm and I have for a couple of months. In pe I have just put a plaster or got a letter with an excuse for not doing pe. But the head of pe talked to everyone who didn't do pe on the last lesson and said even if you have a valid reason for not doing pe you still have to get changed because there are things you can still do. He is also my form tutor so I know that he can be very strict and was not happy that I did not do pe. We have also changed topics in pe so we are inside and can't wear long sleeves . My mum knows about my self harm and so do 2 of my close friends. I was wondering if I explain to my pe teacher why I didn't want to get changed what would she do? Will she have to tell another teacher? Will I be forced to talk to a therapist? Would I still have to do pe? Please answer soon because I am really worried about this.

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Telling other people about self-harm can be difficult, especially when you’re worried about how they might react and what will happen next. The best thing to do in situations like this is to ask and get as much information as you can before you make your decision.

You never have to keep self-harm to yourself. And it’s okay to talk about it with whoever you wish. But it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable with them knowing. Harming yourself is a personal issue and something that you can work on with the support of people you trust, so you’d need to decide if your PE or form teacher is one of those people. You could also try using some self-harm coping techniques.

It’s good that your mum knows about your self-harm as it means that there’s someone who could potentially talk to the school for you. If you didn’t feel able to tell your teacher yourself, then perhaps your mum could do that.

If you do want to try and sort this out yourself but didn’t feel able to tell your teacher directly, then perhaps there is another member of staff you do feel comfortable with.

It’s likely they’d want to talk to your mum about it to make sure she knows, but they shouldn’t try and force you to do any therapy or counselling that you don’t want to do. They might offer it though – and it’s something you could talk about to see if it would help, but the decision should still be yours.

I hope this helps, I’m glad you chose to send me a letter about it as I know this is something lots of young people struggle with.

Take care,

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