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Self Harm - How To Help Someone From It?

Reviewed by
Dr. Rahul Chandhok 91% (15 ratings)
M.D Psychiatry , MBBS
Psychiatrist, Faridabad  •  22 years experience
Self Harm - How To Help Someone From It?

Sometimes a person may start self-mutilation, as in intentionally inflicting pain and harming his own body. It includes cutting, burning, or any other form of harm. Other forms of self-harm include consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs. Self-harm can be confused with an attempt to commit suicide, but most people self-harm to escape from emotional pain. They distract themselves by willing to inject physical pain to overshadow the emotional pain.

Self-harm is the end result of an emotional build up in a person. When people are unable to express their feelings and are resistant to talk about it, Self-harm comes as a temporary source of relief.

How to Help Someone Who Self Harms:

Finding someone in the family or friends who self harms can be extremely disturbing and upsetting. People often show a range of emotions like anger, shock, confusion etc. when they hear about some self-harming. A condition where a person intentionally harms himself is often baffling for people.

It is important to know about the reason why someone is doing it. It is important to understand his/her perspective, to care, to sympathize with him. It is rarely done for “attention seeking”; it is a sort of a coping mechanism. Taking control of emotions is satisfying for them.

Talking about how they are feeling, try to get to know the reason. And, if the person is not willing to talk, let them know that they have friends who would listen.

To stop self-harm is very difficult. It can take a while to stop. It can be an addictive activity. If someone wants to quit self-harming, it is a gradual process. Inflecting less and less harm gradually can be helpful. It is known as self-harm minimization when either the frequency or intensity of the self-harm reduces over time. Opting for therapy can help a lot. Taking a professional’s advice on how to cope with the feeling can be a great help.

Here are a few tips, which can be followed while dealing with someone who self harms:

  1. Talk about their feelings
  2. Don’t judge them
  3. Do not let them feel guilty about how others are feeling about it.
  4. Support them
  5. When they share their feelings, be respectful and understand where they are coming from.
  6. Be compassionate
  7. Do not give them warnings.
  8. Understanding it is difficult to stop self-harming. It will take time for them to be okay.

Deaths due to self-harm have increased over the years. Most self-harm deaths have not been disclosed, hence the numbers are not clear. But it is certain that numbers have significantly increased. There are several online websites which help people who self harm. Online helpline and chat rooms to seek help.

March 1st is designated Self Injury Awareness Day to create awareness among the general public and medical professionals. To give the courage to talk openly about self-harm. Most people who self harm is very embarrassed to talk about it. To help from their friends and family. And, also educates people on how to deal with someone who self harms.


Self-harm is one of the serious issues these days. In this practical word, people often hurt someone or the other without even realizing their emotional and mental status. Some people may not be able to cope with these emotional breakdowns and start blaming themselves. They lose hope in life and try to harm themselves. If someone is facing or experiencing any of these problems, immediately consult a counsellor or psychiatrist.

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