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Helping Our Loved Ones Struggling with Self-Harm

Helping Our Loved Ones Struggling with Self-Harm

As mentioned in our previous article, when life throws a lot at us, things can get really overwhelming. It’s crucial to recognise that sometimes those we care about may be silently battling their own emotional struggles, including the challenging and sensitive issue of self-harm. Understanding the signs of self-harm and how to help a loved one coping with self-harm can feel overwhelming but significant in helping them with their journey toward healing and recovery.

Let’s start by recognising the signs:

🩸 Unexplained Injuries

Keep an eye out for unexplained cuts, bruises, burns, or scars, particularly in areas that are easy to hide, such as the thighs, wrists, or stomach.

👚 Wearing Inappropriate Clothing

Wearing long sleeves or pants in warm weather to cover up marks or injuries could be a sign that someone is trying to conceal self-inflicted wounds.

🧍 Isolation and Withdrawal

A sudden change in social behaviour—such as withdrawing from friends and family or avoiding social situations can be a sign that something is wrong.

☝️ Frequent Accidents or Excuses

Often, those who self-harm might come up with frequent excuses or explanations for their injuries, such as blaming accidents or clumsiness.

🔪 Keeping Sharp Objects

Having an unusual collection of sharp objects like knives, razors, or needles in their belongings could indicate a readiness to harm themselves.

What to Do If You Suspect Self-Harm

If you suspect that you or someone you know is engaging in self-harm, it’s crucial to seek help and support. Here’s what you can do:

  • 🤝 Encourage Seeking Help: Suggest seeking professional help from a counsellor, therapist, or trusted adult. Some may feel that it is easier to talk to someone outside of the immediate circle. We can start by normalising help-seeking!
  • ❤️ Offer Support: Be there for them, offering support and understanding. Sometimes, just having someone to talk to can make a significant difference.

Self-harm is a complex issue, and recovery is possible with the right support and resources. It is crucial to emphasise the power of empathy, understanding, and proactive support. By educating ourselves about the signs of self-harm, we contribute to creating a culture of open communication, compassion, and support.

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About the author Xin Xuan:

Xin Xuan is a professional counsellor and behaviour therapist specialising in evidence-based modalities such as cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance & commitment therapy, motivational interviewing, applied behaviour analysis therapy, play therapy, and more.