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What to Do if You Suspect Someone Is Engaging in Self-Harming Behaviors

It is very painful to watch someone you care about struggle with depression and self-harm. Just like with watching someone you love struggle with addiction, you may feel as if you’re helpless. Self-harming behaviors can also be very difficult to understand if this is not an issue that you have personally struggled with before. You may feel uncomfortable about approaching this subject with someone who you believe may be harming themselves for a number of reasons. 

For example, you could be worried you’ll hurt their feelings or say the wrong thing. You may also be worried that pointing out the issue could make things even worse. However, in reality, this is a very important conversation to have, and this issue should not go unaddressed. When this issue goes on for too long without being addressed, it can become very serious and unsafe. 

Navigating a conversation with someone who may be engaging in this type of behavior can be difficult. Our team at Sage Recovery can help provide you with some guidance that may help. 

Understanding What Self-Harming Behaviors Are

Someone who is engaging in self-harming behaviors will intentionally hurt themselves. They might do this through a variety of different ways like cutting, burning, scratching, or hitting. These types of behaviors can vary in severity and frequency. While people who are engaging in self-harming behaviors may not truly want to take their own life, there is no way to tell if they may become suicidal in the future. 

It can be difficult to fully understand why some people engage in self-harming behaviors. What we do know is that it is a way that some people attempt to cope with serious emotional distress. They may feel a great deal of pain and complex emotions that they do not know how to healthily navigate. Thus, harming themselves can be an attempt to numb the pain. 

Other people may crave the distraction that causing themselves a temporary amount of pain can bring. It may seem preferable to experience that physical pain than the more complex pain they are dealing with on the inside. 

In some cases, the individual may also be struggling with a lot of self-hatred and low self-esteem. They may be seeking ways to punish themselves for certain flaws they perceive themselves to have. This can be an incredibly dangerous practice and a hard cycle to break free from. 

Recognizing the Signs of Self-Harming Behavior

Some people can hide self-harming behaviors from those around them very well. They may be able to continue with this kind of behavior for a long time without anyone knowing that they are struggling. This is because many people who self-harm purposefully hide the evidence of what they are doing from others. They may do this by only harming certain areas of their body that others are less likely to see, or by wearing clothing to hide marks and other wounds. 

Perhaps you think that someone close to you may be engaging in self-harming behaviors but want to know for sure before confronting them about it. In this case, there are some signs that you can be on the lookout for. These may include:

If you suspect that someone you love is taking part in these behaviors, it is only natural to feel alarmed and possibly confused. You may even want to ignore the problem and hope that it will go away on its own. However, when it comes to an issue as serious as this, it is important to have a conversation with your loved one and encourage them to seek the help that they need. Your encouragement could provide the extra nudge they need to get treatment. 

How to Approach a Loved One Who Is Self-Harming

The tone and language that you use when approaching a loved one who is self-harming is incredibly important. You may be tempted to get frustrated and angry with them about them doing something to intentionally harm themselves. However, raising your voice or becoming emotional can just further upset them and prevent a productive conversation from taking place. Instead, it is important to stay as calm and level as possible and approach the conversation from a place of empathy, care, and concern. 

You might not fully understand the reasons that your loved one is taking part in this behavior. However, you can still have compassion for them. Tell them about how their behavior is concerning to you, and encourage them to reach out to a medical professional to get help. They don’t have to continue living this way. 

Our team at Sage Recovery can help you to navigate this difficult conversation as best as possible. 

It is very difficult to watch someone you love take part in behaviors that are causing harm to themselves. If they don’t believe that they have a problem or don’t want to get help, it can be even more overwhelming. You may find yourself feeling very helpless and afraid for their safety. This can be the case for someone struggling with a mental health disorder as well as someone battling active addiction. If this is something that you’re currently going through, you don’t have to try to handle this experience on your own. Our team at Sage Recovery can help provide the guidance you need. Give us a call at (512) 306-1394 today to learn more.