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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: