5 Books About Self Harm With Mental Illness

Mental Illness Books

In a world where struggles with mental health are shrouded in silence, literature offers a powerful means to explore the complex emotions and experiences surrounding self-harm. If you, or someone you know, are facing this difficult journey, you’re not alone. This post is dedicated to books covering self-harm with sensitivity, honesty, and hope.

These stories and insights aim to provide comfort, understanding, and perhaps a path toward healing. Through the pages of these carefully selected works, we invite you to explore narratives that shed light on personal battles, resilience, and the possibility of brighter days ahead. So, in a spirit of compassion and solidarity, let’s gently turn the page and discover the books that can guide us through the shadows toward understanding and empathy.

5 Books About Self Harm

Self-harm refers to an intentional act of body damage either inside or outside of your body without suicidal intent. Self-harm and suicide are very different. Many parents and families struggle with it and don’t understand how to deal with it. The other distinction that’s important to know is that self-harm, by definition, is not socially sanctioned.

Reading books that represent psychological aspects and mental illness is my inspiration. I have always had a soft corner for them. Here are five books that represent self-harm and solutions to it. Let’s read!

NameKey FocusRating (Goodreads)
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen GlasgowA girl is going through a hard life in a mental hospital and dealing with her mental illness.4.1
Scars by Cheryl RainfieldA girl is dealing with her traumatized event, and her therapist is trying to help her.4.1
Willow by Julia HobanThe story focuses on a romantic relationship where the heroine struggles with her loneliness and self-harm issues.4.1
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse AndersonTwo friends are trying to save themselves where the crime scene happens.3.9
Suicide Notes by Michael ThoThe story is an autobiography of a boy having a disorder in a hospital.3.8
Books About Self Harm List

1. Girl in Pieces

This book follows a girl who self-harms. Even though it’s a big part of the story, it’s not the main focus. It’s because this girl has all the reasons in the world to self-harm. You get to feel this girl by the name of Charlie. She has been homeless, and you get to tell her story. You see a lot about how these secrets she’s been hiding come forth throughout the story.

In the first part, Charlie’s completely quiet. It starts in a mental hospital that she’s come to because her friends found her bleeding, where she’s cut up her arms, and she doesn’t speak at all. You can’t go through her thoughts in the beginning part of the book, and then it’s divided into three parts. The first one is she’s in a mental hospital. The second, she comes out and discovers the third one.

I initially enjoyed this book but had difficulty reading it because it was too close to home. But since her story differs from mine, this girl has gone through everything. What’s so interesting about it is that I can have the same thoughts she can have.

So, I can relate to this story, even though I haven’t gone through half of the things she’s gone through. But we say we still have the same thoughts, which makes this book relatable. There’s one important part: Charlie talks a little bit about self-harm when she’s in the mental hospital. If you self-harm, then don’t read this book. If you know someone who self-harms, you must read it to understand or help them.

Girl in Pieces

Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Publisher: Ember
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Tropes: Physical & Emotional Abuse, Social Issues, Romance, Psychology
Number Of Pages: 448
Grade level: 9 – 12
Item Weight: 12.8 ounces
Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.93 x 8.19 inches
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

2. Scars

This book is about a teenage girl named Kendra Marshall, a very talented artist. She is a 15-year-old high school sophomore, and she is a cutter. It’s her coping mechanism for a horrific, traumatized event that happened to her as a child. She was sexually abused, yet she does not know who her abuser was.

So, she’s in therapy, and her therapist is trying to help her figure out who her abuser is. It’s very painful for her to remember because she hurts herself.

When her mother tries to help her, it doesn’t work properly. Also, Kendra needs a girl named Megan, who is rebellious and similar. Megan does not come from a good family. However, Megan and Kendra form a friendship and even more than friendship.

Cheryl Rainfield writes through emotion. Usually, some writers try to make things flowery for writers. But some writers write emotion and life experiences, and Cheryl has gone through it. She talks about a very sensitive topic, and it’s very triggering.


Author: Cheryl Rainfield
Publisher: Westside Books
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Tropes: Mental Illness, Abuse, Psychology
Reading age: 14+ years
Number Of Pages: 250
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Audio CD

3. Willow

Our main protagonist is Willow. Her parents died due to a car accident when she was driving. Willow now lives with her brother, wife, and little daughter. She’s six months old and doesn’t play on the cover. Willow’s living with these people, and she feels very distant.

So, she thinks that replacing emotional pain with physical pain is helping. Then she’s continuing this, becoming a slight obsession that she’s running out of places to cut. One day, Willow meets a boy named Guy. He finds out about her cutting, and they are scared about what will happen. Also, he’s not sure of what to do.

The author captures how both of them feel very well. It’s a great story and doesn’t have this miraculous change. I would not recommend this unless you think you are mature enough. If you can handle the content in this book, go for it. Don’t pick hardcover because it’s low quality, but the paperback and library binding are awesome for cover, color, and font style.


Author: Julia Hoban
Publisher: Speak, Reprint edition
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Tropes: Depression & Mental Health, Death & Dying, Love
Grade level: 9 – 12
Number Of Pages: 336
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Library Binding | Kindle | Audio CD

4. Wintergirls

This book was first published in 2009, and it is short. In the story, we have some girls. One of them is Cassie. Cassie’s body was found in a motel room. She called her best friend, Lia, 33 times before she died. The voice in Lia’s head tells her to stay strong, keep control, lose more weight, and become thinner. Maybe she can make herself disappear altogether.

So this book focuses on Lia, the main character, and it’s a first-person narrative. We’re seeing what is in her head, who has anorexia, her struggle with anorexia, and dealing with Cassie’s death. Many things happen in the book, but you should discover them independently. If you’re looking for a light read, it’s not that. But to be fair, it’s a book that will teach you a lot and give you real-life feelings.


Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Penguin Books
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Tropes: Friendship, Arc, High-school
Number Of Pages: 278
Grade level: 7 – 9 (Teacher’s pick)
Item Weight: 9.6 ounces
Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.84 x 8.25 inches
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

5. Suicide Notes

The story is about a fifteen-year-old boy’s (Jeff) journal, dealing with a mental illness (self-harm) in a hospital. Each chapter is a day, and he’s there for 45 days, which shows his improvement with his therapist. I love that he calls his therapist a funny name because he didn’t want to write the name down the entire time. Then it showed his parents visiting and everyone being sorry.

A new guy comes in and tries doing wrong with one of the girls. Then, suddenly, that girl ends up dying and killing herself. Jeff is messed up about that because they got close, and they were good friends towards the end. But Jeff didn’t complain about it or anything.

As a gay, he fell in love with his best friend’s boyfriend. So, that’s a plot twist in this book that I was not expecting. I was very emotional at the end. That’s why I recommended this best-seller book.

Suicide Notes

Author: Michael Tho
Publisher: HarperTeen, Revised Edition
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Tropes: Suicide Social, Family Issues, Humor, Disabilities-disorders-diseases
Number Of Pages: 320
Item Weight: 8.8 ounces
Dimensions: 5.31 x 0.72 x 8 inches
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

I hope you’ve found solace, understanding, and perhaps recognition within these pages. Stories, while powerful in their own right, are just one part of a broader conversation about mental health and well-being. If you or someone you love is struggling, I encourage contacting a trusted individual or professional for support.

Literature is an excellent companion on the road to healing, offering insights and reflections that resonate with our experiences. May the books I’ve shared serve as beacons of hope, reminding us that we are not alone even in our darkest moments and that healing is possible. Thank you for joining us in this important conversation. Keep holding on to hope, seeking support, and embracing the stories that light the way forward.

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Pauline Jackson

I like to talk about popular books. My book review inspires you to read and save time. Also, I summarize the book and give you the best lessons or ideas that can change your life. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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