How do I help my friend who is self-harming?

Mental Health   ›   Self-Harm  ›   How do I help my friend who is self-harming?

Have you noticed that your friend is self-harming when they’re dealing with difficult emotions? There are things you can do to support them and help them find resources. This article will guide you on how to deal with the situation and what to do if your friend purposely hurts themselves.

Should someone stop self-mutilating?

Yes, even if the person claims that self-mutilation relieves his/her pain or makes him/her feel better. First of all, this relief is only felt in the short term. The person can soon become hooked on this short-lived relief, start again, and fall into a vicious circle. In the long term, the situation is likely to get worse. As soon as the person feels emotions that are hard to contain, he/she harms himself/herself. Sooner or later, the emotions return and get stronger. Then the person feels guilty and starts doing it again, more and more often, and more and more riskily...


My friend has marks on his/her body. Should I talk to him/her about it?

If you feel comfortable talking about the subject with your friend, choose a suitable moment and go ahead. Just remember that you aren’t a health care professional. Your role is to encourage your friend to get help, while setting your own boundaries and expressing your emotions. For example, you can tell your friend that you’re worried about him/her and that you feel powerless. Even if it’s hard for you to understand why he/she is doing that, your friend needs you to stay calm and listen without judgment. Often, your friend may feel ashamed of his/her behaviour.


What can I do for him/her?

You may be shocked or angry about the situation, believe that this behaviour is extreme or weird, but try not to criticize or judge your friend. Even if you feel angry or panicky, your friend needs you to take him/her seriously and listen without judging, because he/she may feel ashamed. Criticizing your friend will only make the situation worse. Encourage your friend to get professional help and support him/her in this effort. Reassure your friend by saying that you appreciate him/her and that you’re there for him/her. Ask questions so your friend can express his/her emotions. Most importantly, don’t deal with this situation all alone. Get support because the situation can become too much for you to handle. You can talk about it with Tel-jeunes.

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