Feb 5, 2012


Category: Teens
Posted By: Hannah

I have reason to believe my friend is self harming but I don’t know for sure. She is 14 years old.  I saw 5 consecutive straight lines on her arm today, I asked her what happened, she covered it up and quickly dismissed it.  I don’t want to get involved to find it is nothing, but also don’t want to ignore it and find its something.

Please help me work out what to do,


Hi Hannah,


Because you are obviously distressed about your friend I wanted to get back to you quickly.  It does sound to me as if your friend is self-harming.  An important thing to know about people who are self-harming is that they are both trying to let people know, and very ready to lie to cover it up.  While this sounds like a contradiction it is part of the state of mind involved with self-harming, of being both in need of help and support and frightened to talk about what is going on.  Letting you briefly see the cuts and then quickly covering them up is a very typical behaviour.  If there had been a reasonable explanation she would have told it to you.

I would suggest that you have a conversation with your friend in which you insist that you are worried, regardless of what she tells you and that you think she should talk to an adult about it and if she doesn't then you will have to.  It is a very difficult thing to be that strong and will be even worse if she gets very angry, which she may well do.  So I think you need to prepare yourself for how you will manage to stay strong.  I know that it seems as if it would be a massive betrayal to let any adult know about what is going on, but I do think that it is necessary in order to keep your friend safe.

I really wish you well in dealing with it.  She is lucky to have a friend who is willing to help her.

My very best wishes,



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