What to Do when Someone is Cutting Themselves

Self Injury

What to do when my teen is cutting themselves
Cutting, Self Injury, Self Abuse

What to Do During Cutting, Self-abuse, Self-Injury, Self Mutilation Situations

By Karlee Davis, MSW, LCISW,  A Brighter Tomorrow Counseling

Self-injury (SI) involves intentional injury to one’s own body. This often takes the form of cutting, but there are many other forms of Self-Injury. Self-injury is a means of coping that often provides a short-term release of emotional tension. Unfortunately this relief is only temporary, so the internalized emotions resurface. Self-injury can be addictive, and it is often difficult for a person to simply stop the behavior.

Those who self-injure are typically not suicidal, but it is important to ask the person about thoughts or intentions of ending one’s life. Encourage open communication, and try to calmly discuss what is going on in the person’s life. Self-injury is an indication of distress and an inability to cope in a healthy manner.

It is essential for the person to get professional counseling with a counselor experienced in treating self-injury. Learning appropriate coping skills and taking steps toward controlling of one’s emotions, can help the person feel empowered and eventually discontinue the behavior.  

Here are 6 things to do with a person cutting or self-injuring themselves:

  1. Stay Calm. Try not to be overly emotional or make the person feel rejected.
  2. Listen. Be available and allow the person to talk if they want to.
  3. Care. Show concern for the person, and ask about the thought process involved in the Self Injury.
  4. Don’t blame yourself. The fact that your child or friend is struggling with self-injury does not make you a bad parent or friend.
  5. Take it seriously. The person should be in professional counseling.
  6. Offer support. Explain that you may not understand the behavior, but your love for the person is unconditional.

Remember you are not alone. Many families and people deal with the hurt and also experience the hope of healing from self-injury. Professional counseling with a licensed therapist who is skilled in working with people who are injuring themselves is essential in resolving most cases involving self-injury. For more information on how to get help with self-injury contact A Brighter Tomorrow Counseling at 304-267-0818.


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