Stigma towards people who self-harm can impact on their ability to rent an apartment, find a job or enter a new relationship, according to new research from Samaritans Ireland.

The study - An Open Secret: Self-Harm and Stigma in Ireland and Northern Ireland - shows that supports and coping mechanisms need to be aimed at all age groups, and also shows stigma pushes self-harm into secrecy.

A total of 769 adults from across the island of Ireland took part in the research, with input from people with lived experience, their loved ones or caregivers, healthcare professionals, and members of the public with no connection to the issue.

Some reported self-harming from as young as four-years-old, and others not starting until they were 50.

The majority of those who self-harmed reported that their behaviours lasted an average of 13 years, while others struggled with it for a lifetime.

Nearly 90% of those who self-harmed said they thought others would have a lower opinion of them.

Of those who took part, 80% felt they could not speak to their employer about self-harm for fear of judgment or stigma.

Of those with no first-hand lived experience of self-harm, over 50% said they would not enter a new relationship if they saw visible signs of self-harm and 30% said it would impact on their willingness to hire someone.

A total of 42% said knowing about or seeing visible signs of self-harm would impact their perception of someone.

77% of all participants said they would be willing to 'help' someone who self-harmed, 64% said they would not carpool, and 56% would not rent an apartment to them.

However, 76% said they would feel comfortable if a close friend or family member confided they self-harmed.

While self-harm is a complex issue, the Samaritans say it does not necessarily result in suicidal thoughts.

However, self-harm is mentioned in a call to Samaritans Ireland volunteers on average once every hour according to the charity.

It has called for well-being and stigma programmes in schools, universities, and workplaces; mandatory stigma training for healthcare professionals and compliance with Samaritans’ media guidelines.

If you’ve been affected by the content of this report, Samaritans are available on freephone 116 123 or email