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Self Harm If you or someone you know is struggling with self harm and needs advice or alternatives, we're here to help.

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How do I advise a self harmer? - November 23rd 2011, 10:20 AM

Hello, my 15 year old niece is self harming. Last week she posted on Tumblr a picture of her arm covered by a sheet with blood showing thru and also pictures of anorexic women. I asked to see her arm and found about 4 fresh cuts on her arm and white lines left over from old wounds all up the arm. We knew she had done this in the past and she couldn't explain why.
Her mother died of Leukaemia 6 years ago, her step father 3 months later abandoned her and her younger sister and she lives with grandparents who are now guardians.
My wife and the guardians mainly dealt with previous self harming she did, but these latest cuts are only known to me, my 19yr old daughter and some of my niece’s friends on Tumblr. She says she doesn’t mind me helping her but asked I not tell her guardians or my wife as I think she feels this will cause too much stress.
Her school are also aware of what has gone on and I have told her to tell a teacher she trusts about what is going on, which she says she has done.
Is there a particular way you think I should be dealing with this? Does it need to be me who keeps gently moving her in the way of counselling? She has never shown much emotion thru her life, even when her mother died. I just think she's lost and needs to express herself somehow or somewhere. Now I am worried that any bit of stress that life throws at her will end up with her self harming again. Any advise would be appreciated.
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Re: How do I advise a self harmer? - November 23rd 2011, 11:50 AM

Hi There,

Counseling would be a good idea! You should tell someone about this and try to get her help. She may not agree with getting help because most of the time people are scared of going into a hospital. No one should go through self harming and feel like they are alone. That is a very hard feeling to have! Make sure that you check in on here phones calls are not a good idea. Its better to go see her if it is possible.

Please PM me if you need to talk!

Take Care,

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Re: How do I advise a self harmer? - November 24th 2011, 12:33 AM

I've talked the situation over with my 19yr old daughter about my niece and i think I am trying to make progress to quickly. I need to back off and let her come to me more and open up in her own time.
My niece says the school are organising councelling for her but I have tried to talk to them but they cant disclose details and won't say anything.
I cant tell her guardians because of the way they will react and no one will ever know if she self harms again because she wont tell anyone. I just feel helpless.
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Re: How do I advise a self harmer? - November 24th 2011, 04:48 PM

Hi there.

I want to start by telling you that I honestly believe that your niece is lucky to have you.

You sound like you are in a really tough situation and as a self harmer and I can refer to your niece in respects to to her not wanting you to pass the information she has given you on to any one else. However, in this you need to think about the risk your niece is at. Now I don't know how badly she is cutting, but perhaps this is something you need to find out to maybe look at the option of telling someone else. If she's not cutting badly, maybe you can get her some information on how to cut safely and prevent infections etc.

I am finding it hard as to what I think you should do. I can see this from both points of view of telling someone and not telling someone. I know that if my child was self harming and you knew, I'd want you to tell me and maybe that would be in the best interest of the child. But your niece also deserves privacy and respect, but this is her health and her safety we're talking about.

I would suggest to encourage her to talk to a counselor. Perhaps even offer to go to the doctors with her. I am aware that if she is under sixteen and she tells a counselor she is self harming, the chances are high they will have to pass the information on to her parents, due to child protection. Counseling may benefit your niece and she might get the chance to do some CBT work which will help change her though process.

For now I encourage you to talk about the safety as well as perhaps helping her come up with some alternatives to self harm. This way she can try to use things ti distract her self when she has urges.

I hope this helps and if you need anything, feel free to shoot me a PM.


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Josie 12/3/2014, always in my heart. Sue 19/2/2016; Peter, Ellie, Hannah, Andy, Kirtsie RIP.

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Re: How do I advise a self harmer? - November 24th 2011, 05:15 PM

Thanks Jessie, good advise
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Re: How do I advise a self harmer? - December 2nd 2011, 12:51 AM

i think she needs someone to just tell her that she is loved....that she isn't alone... it really helps me to know that when I harm myself I harm the people I love most... it makes me want to stop and gives me the strength to continue to not cut.... but then again she has to stop cutting for herself too....counselling is probably the best option...it helps to talk to someone u don't know...she needs to let go of all the bad memories in a healthy way...
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