How to help someone else
If you think someone you know has started to self-harm, it's important to approach the subject with care and understanding.
It can be very helpful to just be there and let them know they're not alone. But it's important to remember you may not be able to help them on your own.
How to recognise self-harm
It can be hard to recognise when someone has started to self-harm as they may not want anyone else to know.
There are also many different ways that someone might self-harm.
Things you can try to help
There are some things you can try that may help someone feel more supported and able to get help.
encourage them to speak to a GP or free listening service about self-harm
ask how they would like to be supported
let them know you're there for them
tell them about their positive qualities
try to understand their emotions and experiences, without judging them, rather than focusing on their self-harm
consider that any amount of self-harm might be a sign that they're feeling extremely distressed
let them be in control of their decisions, but get them medical attention if needed
do not try to force them to change what they're doing
do not threaten to take away their control
do not insult them, for example by saying they're attention-seeking
Further information and support
If you're supporting someone who self-harms you should also make sure you take care of yourself.
These organisations offer information and advice for friends and family:
- Mind – for friends and family of someone who self-harms
- Staying Safe – advice for supporting someone else
- YoungMinds – parents' guide to self-harm support
- British Medical Association – coping with self-harm: a guide for parents and carers (PDF, 3MB)
- University of Nottingham – It's Okay to Talk about Self-harm leaflet