Whether someone tells you directly, or you suspect that someone is hurting themselves, it can be difficult to know what to say and how best to approach the situation. You might feel shocked, angry, helpless, responsible or any number of other difficult emotions.

•Try not to panic or overreact. The way you respond to your friend or family member will have an impact on how much they open up to you and other people about their self-harm in the future.

Remember that self-harm is usually someone’s way of managing very hard feelings or experiences, and that in the majority of cases it is different to suicidal feelings. Advice on Self-Harming


  • Let the person know that you are there for them.
  • Relate to them as a whole person, not just their self-harm.
  • Try to have empathy and understanding about what they are doing.
  • Let them be in control of their decisions.
  • Offer to help them find support (see Where to find help).
  • Remind them of their positive qualities and things they do well.
  • Try to have honest communication, where you take responsibility for any fears you have.

sometimes a reason that constitutes for self-harm is the complete and utter lack of attention or isolation, so if you find out that someone is self-harming, all they need sometimes is someone to talk to…


If you, or anybody you know is self-harming, seek help NOW: see ‘Where to find help’ for more.