How to Help Someone Who Is Self-Harming in Relationships

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If someone you care about tells you they're self-harming, it can be difficult to know what to do. Follow our advice to help you help them.

Why do people self-harm?

Self-harming is usually a way for someone to cope with or express emotional distress.

This can be due to:

  • feelings of anger or self-hatred
  • frustration at being bullied
  • deeper mental health issues

How can I help someone who is self-harming?

1) Be a good listener

Give the person space and time to speak, without judgement or jumping to conclusions.

2) Don’t panic that you don’t know what to do

Just being there to talk to them will help. A problem shared is often a problem halved!

3) Talk it out with them

Help them find a way to work out their feelings.

4) Do some research

Find out what organisations are out there to support them, and to support you.

5) Understand things to get sorted out quickly

Self harm is a way of coping with underlying problems that can take time to be worked through.

6) Know that you don't need to keep their secret

Even if they ask for you to keep it a secret, it's important to get help as soon as possible for someone who is self-harming.

7) Look after yourself too

If you’re feeling overwhelmed you also need to seek support.