Help, My Friend Is Cutting

I have written many blogs on the subject of cutting.  We've discussed what it is, why people do it, the consequences, and some possible solutions to the problem.  But, today, I want to talk specifically to the friends of cutters.

Help, my friend is cutting.

This can be a hard subject to talk about and it can be a very sensitive subject to the cutter, so it is important to keep the following things in mind when trying to help.

Someone recently wrote to me and asked: My friend is cutting. How can I get it into my best friend's head that cutting is not good at all?

She's right cutting is not good at all, and I appreciate her desire to help her friend.  However, there isn't a simple answer to this question.  We can't just throw out facts and figures and think a cutter is going to be instantly convinced to stop.  As I wrote about in Why People Cut, cutters are usually covering up a deeper emotional pain.

Therefore, when talking to a friend about cutting here are some very important things to remember.

  • Do NOT come across as judgmental.  You may not be aware of the personal struggle they are facing which has led to self-harm.
  • REALLY listen and seek to understand. Often someone who cuts feels like no one understands them. Do NOT be one more person that says why would you do this to yourself? It doesn't make any sense. Rather, ask some probing questions with a genuine desire to understand.  Such as: Why do you think you cut yourself?  Do you cut to cover up other pain? How do you feel after you cut? How do you feel the next day? Help them to tell their story...if they're ready. You don't need to have all the answers. Just listen!
  • Encourage your friend that you BELIEVE in them.  Tell them you know they will have the strength to stop when they decide to and that you will support them however you can. Offer to be their accountability partner, if they want.  You can be the person they call to distract themselves from cutting when the temptation arises.
  • Refer them to other resources on the subject of self-harm and read more about it yourself. We have created a link with many helpful resources available all in one convenient place. You could simply text or email your friend this link and say..."When you are ready..." or share it through social media. You never know when sharing information could impact a life. TheHopeLine Resource Page
  • Most importantly PRAY for them. God is bigger than cutting!!  He can help them overcome the addiction. Pray that God gives them the strength and desire they need to stop cutting and find HOPE.

If you want to know more about breaking free from self-harm. Read this blog that our friend, Amanda Turner, wrote about her personal story. 

Thanks for caring. You CAN make a difference in someone's life.

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41 comments on “Help, My Friend Is Cutting”

  1. My best friend named Sammy has been cutting herself. I was at her house one time when she said she had to go to the bathroom. I just waited in her room until I heard a soft cry from the kitchen. I came into the kitchen and hid, and I saw her with a big knife and cutting her wrist. She noticed me and said she just cut her self by accident. I knew she was lying, and she recently told me why she has been cutting herself. Her ex-boyfriend, Maxx, has moved on and wants nothing to do with her but Sammy still loves him and she says she's not good enough to live if he doesn't love her. I notice lots of bandaids on her arms and she tries to hide them now. She NEVER wears long sleeved shirts until she started cutting. I am so mad and sad and confused and I wonder why she doesn't think of her friends when she does this. She knows that I hate that she's cutting herself but, she continues to do it. No one knows but me. WHAT DO I DO??!??

    1. Dear Elizabeth, Thank you for reaching out for help. You are a good friend to Sammy and we want to give you a resource to contact to find out the next step to help her. We have a partner organization, Door of Hope, that specializes in Self-Harm and has recovery coaches available. Please visit http://www.thehopeline.com/partners/door-of-hope-4-teens/ for more information about them and their number to text to talk to a recovery coach. A recovery coach will help you with the next steps to help your friend.

  2. I was sitting in class next to my best friend today and we were joking around and then we started doing our work and she rolled up her sleeve a bit to itch her arm and i saw multiple red lines on her arm that looked like cuts but im not completely sure because i took off my glasses so i couldnt see properly, she put her hand under the desk and quickly rolled up her sleeve when she saw me looking and started to change the subject but she wouldnt look at me. She often seems upset and depressed and i heard from other people in my class that she was crying in the bathroom the other day and she didnt come back to class for the rest of the lesson. Shes really close with her grandad and he recently fell fatally ill. Shes been upset about it for a while now but im concerned because if she has cut herself im not sure what i can do, i dont want her to do anything bad and i dont know what id do if something bad happened to her. She recently went to the hospital and this morning at lunch i when she was getting her textbook from her bag to show me what we have to study there were some weird pills in her bag, i know its none of my business but im still concerned because she hasnt told me anything about whats happening but i know somethigs going on. I need to know how i could help her, please.

    1. Hannah, Your friend is very fortunate to have a friend like you that cares. Trust your instincts with your friend. If you're concerned about her and feel like she is cutting it's important that you talk to her about it. It's probably hard for her to open up about it and she is emotionally distraught because of her granddad, however, she needs to know that you are there to listen and that you care about her. We have a partner resource that specialize in help with self-harm. Please feel free to text them to ask how you can help your friend too. You could also give your friend this information if you are able to get her to open up about the cutting. To find out more about our partner, Door of Hope, go to this page: https://www.thehopeline.com/partners/door-of-hope-4-teens/

  3. me and my friend made a deal that if i stop cutting he will too but we've been on break and i forgot about the deal a couple days ago and cut im afraid my friend is gonna ask if i cut over break and start doing it again if i tell him the truth what do i say???

    1. Sicily,
      First of all, it is good you have a friend that you can trust and that you both want to help each other. It's important that you come clean and tell your friend the truth so that you don't break this trust and so you both can start recovery. Please know you both are valuable and worthy and we are proud of you for trying to overcome your addiction to cutting. We have a partner organization, Door of Hope, that specializes in Self-Harm and has recovery coaches available. We hope that this resource can help you and your friend. Please visit http://www.thehopeline.com/partners/door-of-hope-4-teens/ for more information about them and their number to text to talk to a recovery coach.

  4. I have a friend who has been cutting for a few months now she has talked to me about it but she hasn't stopped. I've tried to encourage her to stop but she doesn't think I understand that well. She has now also stopped eating and she's lost a lot of weight. I don't know what to do as I feel like it I tell someone she'll feel betrayed. I'm worried and I care about her. What should I do?

  5. Hi hopeline, I am a previous cutter, (but I have stopped), so I know somewhat what someone might be feeling when harming themselves. My problem is that I was talking to my friend the other day and I saw cuts on her wrists. I only saw three, but they looked pretty uniform. I'm confused as to whether these are cuts, or whether she's just getting cracks in her skin because it is winter time. I'm worried, but I don't want to awkwardly bring it up if she just has dry skin. I only saw a little of her skin because she had a coat on, and I don't see her that often. How do I help without accusing her of cutting or seeming really extreme or worried for no reason?

    1. Great question and we understand your concern. Perhaps you could tell a bit of your story in a conversation with her about how you used to cut. Sharing your story and being transparent with her may help her to open up to you. Maybe start with talking about an anniversary. "It's been ____ months/years since I used to cut and I am proud of myself and the recovery I have accomplished." If you need additional help please feel free to contact our partner that specialized in self-harm.You can text them at 1-803-570-2061 (Alternative No. 914-393-1904) Texting is available Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday 8:30 – 10:30 EST.
      Their website is http://www.doorofhope4teens.org. You can email them to doorofhope4teens@gmail.com (answered in 24/48 hrs)

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