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How to REALLY Help Someone Who Struggles with Self-Harm

Recently, I’ve had a lot of people (therapists, counselors, support group facilitators, parents, etc.) ask me about how to help someone who self-harms.

So, here are some things you should know.

  • Most cutters are highly intelligent and extremely sensitive.
  • Many don’t do it in an effort to end their life, but rather, to end their pain.
  • There are, unfortunately, people and websites that are pro self-harm (this is NOT one of those websites and I am NOT one of those people).
  • Self-mutilation is an addiction, and should be treated as such.

And here are some materials to use. Starting with, the top 5 things to never say to someone who self-injures:

What not to say to someone who self-injures.

Next, 5 things you should say instead:

What to say to someone who self-injures.

Take time to know and understand what the person who is cutting is going through.

And listen.

See this person as whole and send your love and compassion. I promise, he or she will be able to feel it.

If you are the one who is self-mutilating, I made this for you to print out (therapists and support group facilitators you can print these out to use in your sessions):

Self-harm worksheet

It’s okay to ask for help. In fact, please do so. Don’t keep it to yourself. I know you feel like no one understands you, but they never will if you’re not willing to let them. Believe it or not, the people around you are just as scared as you are.

Here’s mine as an example:

Tell me you love me.

Here’s another one for you to print out and use:

Things to do instead of cutting

It’s important to know what to do when you feel the urge to cut. When you’re in that state you’re not always rational so having something physical to have on you or in a place where you can see it will remind you that you have other options available.

Here’s mine (feel free to steal some ideas from it):

My list of things to do instead of cutting.

That’s it for now. I hope this is useful!

As always I welcome your comments and suggestions.

8 replies
  1. Sheila says:

    I was approached after a speaking engagement by a high school senior who told me she wanted to write a book about this topic. She said she was a cutter and that she didn’t think the right kind of resources were available for her so she wanted to write a book that would be useful. I offered to mentor her in writing it but she disappeared into the crowed and I never heard from her again. I appreciate that you are sharing so much of yourself in an effort to inform and help others. Keep up the great work!

    • Carrie Leigh Sandoval says:

      Thank you Sheila. I felt the same way as the young girl you are describing. I was hospitalized, drugged, etc. but never really felt understood. I feel so grateful that I made it through all that to be able to share all I’ve learned. 🙂

  2. Linda Joy says:

    Carrie, thank you for your post. It gave me a deeper understanding into the pain that self-harmers feel and your loving, compassionate suggestions and guidance were powerful. Thank you for shining your light in the world and reaching out to those who need you most.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] You might also enjoy a very similar post I made here. […]

  2. […] This is part two of helping someone who self-harms. The first post can be found here. […]

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