First Aid for Self-Injuries

There are many forms of self-harm (also known as non-suicidal self-harm). These can come in the form of cutting, hitting, pulling of hair, and so on. In another blog I will go into harm reduction when it comes to self-harm, but now I want to explore how to take care of your injuries, specifically after cutting.

  • Assess the damage. If blood is pumping out from the injured area, in time to your heartbeat (to check your heartbeat you can put two fingers to your neck, under your jaw; or you can press two fingers to your wrist) then this means you have cut through an artery – therefore immediate direct-pressure is needed, and you should head to your nearest clinic or call an ambulance;
  • The bleeding needs to be controlled to make sure blood loss is minimal. Cover the wound with a clean dressing (do not use tissues as pieces of tissue can get stuck to the wound and cause an infection) and apply direct pressure to prevent bleeding do this for 3-5mns;
  • When blood trickles or oozes out of a wound then it would not necessarily be an emergency, but veins, tendons and nerves may still have suffered damage;
  • If the area of injury is on a limb then raise the limb to reduce blood flow to the area, reducing blood loss and allowing time for a blood clot to form.

When direct pressure is not appropriate, such as when something is stuck in the would, then you may use indirect pressure by pressing the wound together – do not remove the object, but call for an ambulance. 

If you have been feeling distressed or in pain, consider speaking with a therapist or counsellor who can support you through the pain. If this is not accessible for you, consider speaking with emergency or 24/7 services like 179, 1770, and (in Malta & Gozo).

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