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Depression Help

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Your friend just told you that he or she self-harms. How should you react? What should you say? What can you do if your friend hasn’t said anything but you think he/she might be self-injuring?

Here’s 8 things you can do when a friend self-injures:

  1. Stay calm. Don’t panic or over-react. That will just increase your friend’s emotional distress and not solve anything. Take some time to digest everything your friend has told you. Jumping to snap conclusions or reacting poorly will isolate you from your friend.
  2. Talk. Talking about self-injury can be a really hard thing for your friend. Don’t force the issue. If your friend wants to talk, then listen non-judgmentally. Let your friend know you’re there whenever he/she needs to talk to you.
  3. Take the problem seriously. Don’t accuse your friend of being an attention seeker or being too emotional. It’s not just a girl thing. It doesn’t mean you’re a wimp who can’t deal with stuff. Self-injury is what you see of a serious emotional problem, ‘stuff’ like abuse or bullying, which can tear down the strongest person.
  4. Know your limitations. You can’t solve every problem. You can’t always give good advice. Encourage your friend to seek help from a parent, teacher, or medical professional.
  5. Stop gossip about your friend. Gossip can lead to bullying, lose of friendships, isolation, and low self-esteem. That’s not helping your friend. Don’t talk about the self-injuries unless your friend has agreed to it.
  6. Tell someone immediately if your friend mentions suicide. Self-harm isn’t suicidal by itself but the pain and despair behind it can lead to suicidal thoughts.
  7. Give encouragement through prayer if your friend is religious. Praying together or talking about how God loves him/her can help.
  8. Don’t say things like “God is angry with you for hurting yourself.” God is probably more concerned about helping your friend out of the darkness and pain he/she feels than about being angry or punishing your friend.

For information or assistance, contact Mental Health America or S.A.F.E. Alternatives

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