If you or a loved one needs help in coping, consider the tips below. If there's a focus on thoughts of suicide, you or your loved one can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24-hour crisis line at 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK).
Coping tips if you self-injure
- Recognize the situations or feelings that might trigger your desire to self-injure. Make a plan for other ways to soothe, distract or get support for yourself so you're ready the next time you feel that urge.
- Connect with others who can support you so that you don't feel alone. For example, reach out to a family member or friend, contact a support group or get in touch with your doctor.
- Learn to express your emotions in positive ways. For example, to help balance your emotions and improve your sense of well-being, become more physically active, practice relaxation techniques, or participate in dance, art or music.
- Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. They affect your ability to make good decisions and can put you at risk of self-injuring.
- Avoid websites that support or glamorize self-injury. Instead, seek out sites that support your recovery efforts.
Coping tips if your loved one self-injures
Dec. 06, 2012
- Get informed. Learning more about self-injury can help you understand why it occurs and help you develop a compassionate but firm approach to helping your loved one stop this harmful behavior.
- Try not to judge or criticize. Criticism, yelling, threats or accusations may increase the risk of self-injuring behavior.
- Let your loved one know you care no matter what. Remind the person that he or she is not alone and that you are available to talk. Recognize that you may not change the behavior, but you can help the person find resources, identify coping mechanisms and offer support during treatment.
- Share coping strategy ideas. Your loved one may benefit from hearing strategies you use when feeling distressed. You can also serve as a role model by using appropriate coping strategies.
- Find support. Consider talking to other people who've gone through the same thing you're going through. Share your own experiences with trusted family members or friends and keep in close touch with the professional taking care of your loved one. Ask your friend or loved one's doctor or therapist if there are any local support groups for parents, family members or friends of people who self-injure.
- Take care of yourself, too. Take some time to do the things you enjoy doing, and get adequate rest and physical activity.
- Shedler J. The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American Psychologist. 2010;65:98.
- Self-harm in young adults. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/SelfInjury_Fact_Sheet_FINAL.pdf. Accessed Oct. 11, 2010.
- What is self-injury, self-harm, self-abuse? The Official Newsletter of NAMI Springfield. 2012;2:1.
- Cutting. TeensHealth from Nemours. http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/cutting.html. Accessed Oct. 11, 2012.
- Facts for families: Self-injury in adolescents. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. http://aacap.org/page.ww?name=Self-Injury+in+Adolescents§ion=Facts+for+Families. Accessed Oct. 11, 2012.
- Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml. Accessed Sept. 14, 2012.
- A family guide: What families need to know about adolescent depression. http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Child_and_Adolescent_Action_Center&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24806. Accessed Sept. 14, 2012.
- When you fear someone may take their life. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?page_id=f2f25092-7e90-9bd4-c4658f1d2b5d19a0. Accessed Sept. 14, 2012.
- Mental health and teens: Watch for danger signs. Healthychildren.org. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token. Accessed Oct. 11, 2012.
- Hofmann SG, et al. The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2010;78:1.
- Self-injury. NAMI On Campus. http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Find_Support/NAMI_on_Campus1/Mental_Illness_Fact_Sheets/Self-injury.pdf. Accessed Oct. 12, 2012.
- Barrocas AL, et al. Rates of nonsuicidal self-injury in youth: Age, sex, and behavioral methods in a community sample. Pediatrics. 2012;130:39.
- Lewis SP, et al. The scope of nonsuicidal self-injury on YouTube. Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org. Accessed Oct. 11, 2012.
- Palmer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. (Nov. 1, 2012).
- Alarcon RD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. (Nov. 4, 2012).
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