Tips for Friends: Self Harm

According to a google search, self harm is the “intentional, direct injury of body tissue most often done without suicidal intentions.” A person who self harms will explain their behaviour as a way of dealing with situations out of their control and feelings toward difficult or painful experiences. Most self harmers attempt to keep it hidden, and it may also become addicting as a release for some.

There are a number of different ways of self harming, including but not limited to: cutting yourself, poisoning yourself, over or under-eating, burning yourself, overdosing, and exercising excessively.

Similar to other mental illnesses, there’s not just one explanation for self harm. It could be started for a number of factors, including but not limited to: pressure at work or school, bullying, money worries, sexual, physical or mental abuse, breakdown of relationships, an illness or health problem, and difficult feelings (such as depression, anxiety, or numbness.)

When helping a friend who self harms, keep in mind that it may be very hard for them to stop harming themselves. If they are not comfortable speaking with you, encourage them to reach out to a professional, or offer online options they could look into.

Here are some tips for when a friend approaches you about self harm:

-Offer them a safe space to talk about what they are feeling, and let them know that you want to listen to them about how they are feeling when they are ready to talk.

-Do not be judgmental, and remember that this is something that takes a lot of courage to talk about.

-Do not make them feel guilty about what they are doing affects others.

-Even though you may not understand why they self harm, be compassionate and respect them.

-Again, remember that self harm cannot just be cured. It is a long and hard journey, and it will only end when the person is ready to stop.

For further information on self harm, please visit Befrienders Worldwide  or Mind for Better Mental Health.


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