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How to Help a Friend Who’s Cutting Themselves

Commonly used as a way of dealing with stress, cutting is especially prevalent among adolescent girls. Here’s how you can help your friend in need.


  • Step 1: Understand the motivation Read articles and research cutting. Understand that most teens use cutting as a coping mechanism to deal with underlying stressors in their lives.
  • Step 2: Talk to your friend Talk to your friend about their cutting. Don’t judge them, but let them know they have your support. If they don't want to discuss it, back off but let them know the offer stands.
  • Step 3: Find resources for your friend Offer your help in finding a support group or web resources for your friend. Online blogs or forums may offer an immediate outlet.
  • TIP: S.A.F.E. Alternatives -- Self-Abuse Finally Ends -- and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) are two organizations that offer support throughout the United States. Other state and regional organizations are available as well.
  • Step 4: Offer alternatives to cutting Offer alternatives to cutting, such as squeezing an ice cube, drawing on their arm or leg with a red marker, taking a walk with you, or playing with a pet. The idea is to distract and offer an outlet.
  • Step 5: Tell someone Tell a trusted authority figure or your parents. If your friend’s cutting worsens, getting them professional treatment may be your best option.
  • FACT: About 1 percent of the United States population has, at some point, instigated a self-injury.

You Will Need

  • Articles on cutting
  • Non-judgemental attitude
  • Willingness to listen
  • Internet access
  • Patience

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