How to Help a Friend who is Self-Injuring
Self-injury is usually very private and can be really hard to talk about. When you first find out a friend is self-injuring it can be difficult to understand and tough to deal with.
Self-injury is usually very private and can be really hard to talk about. When you first find out a friend is self-injuring it can be difficult to understand and tough to deal with. You have already taken the first step to helping by reading this information. Just being there and offering support can be a huge help. But, know your limits. Know when you are able to help and when you need to encourage your friend to reach out for more help. Make sure you take care of yourself and your needs too. Remember to be patient with your friend and remember it is not your fault.
Some ways you can help a friend who is self-injuring are:
- Reach out. Talk to your friend. Let them know you are worried and you care about them. But be prepared for any reaction. They may not be ready to talk quite yet, but knowing they can talk to you is important. Check out these Tips for talking with your friend for more ideas.
- Listen to what they have to say in a non-judgemental way. Try not to look at their behaviour as “good”, “bad” or “weird”. Instead, be understanding, and try not to tell them what to do.
- Share information. Tell your friend about any websites or other resources you have found helpful. Let them know you can be there if they look at these resources or just a phone call away if they would like to look at them on their own.
- Support your friend when they are ready to reach out for more help. Offer to come with them to talk with a parent, caregiver, doctor, counsellor or coach.
- If your friend has not reached out for other help, encourage them to do so. Suggest they reach out to a trusted adult such as a school counsellor, doctor, coach, or peer support worker.
- Do not promise to keep their self injury a secret. You don’t want your friend to feel betrayed if you need to reach out to a trusted adult to take care of yourself or if you are really worried about your friend.
- Take care of yourself. Supporting others when they’re struggling can often affect us as well. It is important that you make sure you have time and energy for your own needs. Don’t feel guilty about taking some space to recharge.
Visit the For Friends section for more ways to support your friend.
Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.