If a Loved One SIs
- Be aware that it took a great deal of courage to come out to you about it, and that rejection may be harmful.
- Comfort them: they've just revealed to you that they're in pain, they did so for a reason.
- Talk over their problems, why they SI, give them a safe, loving environment to talk about whatever they want to.
- Fix boundaries with them. Tell them, for instance, that everything they tell you will be kept between the two of you unless you think they are going to seriously harm themselves. Or tell them when they can and cannot phone you for help. You need to set boundaries to avoid hurt in the future - if they know straight off that they cannot ring you at 5am, then they're less likely to be hurt when, if they ring you in distress, you're cold with them about it.
- Be aware that you've had a shock. It may be very painful to learn that someone has been in so much pain that they have been harming themselves to cope, and never told you before. Take time out if you need to - its nothing to be ashamed of, but do make sure your loved one knows its not because you're disgusted at them or that you hate them or anything.
If Someone Tells You They SI...DON'T:
- Tell them you are disgusted. That is not helpful, they may well feel disgusting themselves, and its not going to help to be told that from someone else.
- Tell them not to be stupid. If they could have stopped, they would have.
- Blame them for blaming you. It might have nothing at all to do with you. And blaming them for hurting you is not going to stop them hurting themselves.
- Keep guard over them. They may want help to stop cutting, but are unlikely to appreciate losing their freedom and privacy, however well-intentioned you may be. Talk to them, make a compromise (eg you inspect their arms once a week to check they've not got any infectons/hurt too badly/are doing better, but don't spy on them.
- March them off to the doctor and ask for them to be "fixed". Treating them like someone who is broken and not satisfactory until they are fixed again isn't going to make anyone feel better. Suggest they go to the doctor for treatment, but bear in mind that it is hard to own up to SI, and it may take time for them to be able to tell others. Be proud that they trusted you enough to confide in.
- Tell everyone/their parents/friends/schoolteachers. As stated before, its hard to tell someone you SI, no one wants to be known as some sort of freak, and have everyone whispering about them. Even if their friends and family are doing so with the best of intentions, no one wants to be looked at sidelong.
If You Find Out Someone SIs...DO
- Bring it up with them. Be gentle and understanding, read up on it beforehand (go to links) and try to understand why they are doing this.
- Be aware that they might want you to have found out. They may feel unable to tell you outright and so let you find out in hope that you'll bring the subject up so they can talk about it.
- Let them talk as much as they like and get it all out.
- Be prepared for tears and violent statements as well as a fair measure of self-hate.
- Think over what you want to say to them and what you might hear before bringing it up with them.
- Urge them to get help from a doctor: but don't force them to do it if they don't want to.
If You Find Out Someone SIs...DON'T
- Shout and scream and accuse them of keeping secrets. Most SIers find it incredibly difficult to come out to others, there is a good reason behind them not telling you.
- Be disgusted, tell them they're a freak.
- Ignore it. Its evidence of a serious problem.
- Blame it on them copycatting a friend/famous person. It doesn't matter where they got the idea from, the fact that they're doing it means they have a problem that needs to be resolved.
- Say that they'll "grow out of it" and then ignore it. It needs to be talked about.