What to Do if You or a Friend is Self-Harming

Perhaps you or a friend is self-harming or cutting. We understand how hard it can be to confront a problem like this. It's like hiding a monster in your closet where you're afraid to let it out, but in a weird way, you like having him there.

Kimberly Navarro, licensed therapist (LMFT), provides these insights about cutting:

It can feel good to have a release from all you're holding in. Cutting can create a space for you to free the pain, frustration and fears without anyone knowing what is going on inside. Self-harm can momentarily quiet the really deep pain, too. Cutting can be a way to deal with whatever life throws at you. The thing is, there are some good and some harmful ways to deal, and cutting is a harmful one: It is destructive to your body, leads to shame and can even become an addiction. There are chemicals that get released when our bodies get hurt, and they have a calming effect. This can create a high' when cutting, and so the chase begins: pursuing that feeling even though it never is quite as good as the first experience. There are times when you won't have the words for your feelings/pain, but cutting is never the answer. You must find other ways that are not destructive.

Here are a few signs you might notice that one of your friends or family members is struggling with self-harm:

  • One of the most obvious signs is wearing a hoodie or long-sleeve shirt all the time, even when it's scorching hot outside.
  • Another sign can be wearing lots of wristbands.
  • Cutting also goes hand in hand with emotional problems in general. So just notice their obvious mood changes, ask how they are doing and have real discussions don't just keep it shallow.

It's important to know:

  • Deep inside, many self-harmers want to be discovered. They often cut in obvious places hoping to get noticed. But they are torn because they are afraid of being shamed or potentially getting sent to a psych ward.
  • Most have friends who know but are sworn to secrecy, or have friends who struggle, too. The people who self-harm in complete secrecy and who cut in hidden places that would never have a chance for discovery typically are in more serious emotional distress.
  • As a friend, it's important to follow your gut. If you think someone is in trouble, and they won't talk to you about it, then they probably are; if they're not 'being themselves,' then they may need help.

Related Posts:
A Door of Hope
Why Do People Self-Harm?
Real Story: Artist Michaela Hatfield
How To Quit Cutting

We strongly believe that one cannot be free of the harmful effects of society without accountability and a strong reliance on God. You or your friend won't be cured of cutting until you address what's hurting inside, and that will likely require the help of a professional who has a relationship with Jesus Christ and experience with people in similar situations to yours. You or your friend will need interventions before you're free of this demon, be that from MyBrokenPalace.com, a local crisis center, a trusted therapist or a counselor. Whatever your choice, please do something now!

This guest post on self-harm is written by Jes Balascio of My Broken Palace for Project Inspired. 

TheHopeLine Team
For over 30 years, TheHopeLine has been helping students and young adults in crisis. Our team is made up of writers and mental health professionals who care deeply about helping others.
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