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Peer Talk

My friend is self-harming. Should I tell someone else about it?

Thanks so much for your question! We really appreciate you reaching out to us, it’s so important to ask for help when you’re not really sure what to do. It is so awesome to see people genuinely supporting their friends who are going through a rough time and need that extra care.

Self-harm is a subject that a lot of people tend to stay away from because it’s hard to talk about. There are different ways to self-harm. People use self-harm as a way of coping with their situation or their emotions, which is different from suicidal behavior as suicidal behavior results out of a desire to end one’s like rather than cope with difficult feelings. Self-harm as a coping method can become dangerous, as it has to possibility of leading to painful infections or life-threatening conditions. At Connecteen, we’d like to open up a safe space to talk about self-harming, as well as discuss alternative coping mechanisms: anything from taking a shower, grabbing a bite to eat, watching TV, to doing exercise, drawing, writing, or reading.

It’s so great to see how much you care for your friend’s well-being. Unfortunately in our day and age, there is lots of stigma around issues of self-harm, suicide, and mental health. Keep in mind that you are not in charge of saving your friend from their problems. As much as we’d like to fix all the issues in their lives, we are also imperfect human beings who can’t solve all of life’s problems. As a supportive friend, one thing that perhaps you can offer is a non-judgemental attitude. If you’re comfortable with the idea, you can even offer to listen to what your friend is going through. Oftentimes, simply listening to a friend’s problems and hearing what they have to say can make a huge difference, and it lets them know that they’re not alone.

Not wanting to break your friend’s trust is a normal feeling, and it proves how much you value their friendship. A big part of genuine friendship is truly wanting what’s best for the other person, and it seems like you see a need for extra help and support. Talking to your friend about whether or not they would be comfortable with talking to a trusted adult about what they’ve been going through could be a way to get extra help from someone more mature. If you’re interested in getting more information on how to support your friend, you could also dial 211 and explain what you’re looking for. They can help get you connected to some resources in that area.

Apart from caring about your friend’s well-being, make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. It can be overwhelming to deal with another person’s emotional issues. Remember that you’re not alone either, and that it’s good to reach out for help if you’re feeling frustrated, stressed, or if you don’t know what to do. Find your own coping mechanisms to de-stress and relax as well.

Each individual is different, and each scenario is different, so we would love for you to connect with us over our online chat to better support you. You can also text us at 587-333-2724, or call us at 403-264-TEEN (8336). We’d love to hear from you.



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