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Teens: Being There for a Friend Who Self-Injures

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Teens: Being There for a Friend Who Self-Injures

Overview

How can you support a friend who hurts themself?

It's tough to have a friend who self-injures, or hurts themself on purpose. You may feel worried about your friend. And you may be wondering what to do. You can't stop your friend from self-injuring, but you can be there for them.

Here are some ways to support your friend.

  • Encourage your friend to seek help.

    Your friend can talk to an adult they trust, such as a counselor, a parent, or a faith leader. If this is too hard for your friend, you can offer to talk to someone for them.

  • Don't promise to keep it a secret.

    Self-injury is serious. Sometimes people who self-injure may also be thinking about suicide. So it's important to let someone know. This is to keep your friend safe.

  • Be a good listener.

    If your friend wants to talk, do so in a place that's safe and private. If you feel upset, first take some time to calm yourself. If it feels right, ask some questions. And listen closely to the answers. This can help your friend feel better understood.

  • Keep hanging out with your friend.

    When you're together, focus on your friend and not the self-injury. Have fun together. Do the things you like to do. For example, listen to music, go for walks, dance, or play a game.

  • Take care of yourself.

    It's not easy to have a friend who hurts themself. If you're feeling worn-out, it's okay to take short breaks from your friend now and then. And you may want to talk to someone, like a counselor.

  • Learn more ways to help your friend.

    One resource you could try is the Self-injury Outreach and Support website. Go to sioutreach.org to learn more. The site has personal stories, videos, and other tips on how to help a friend.

If it's an emergency, call 911.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to 988lifeline.org for more information or to chat online.

Credits

Current as of: June 25, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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