For Family and Friends

Welcome to our Family and Friends page! We have created this page to help family members and friends of youth who self-injure find good information about self-injury. We have visited the following websites ourselves, and have tried to give you a sense of the kind of information you’ll find beside each link.

As a friend or family member, what can you do?

There is an important role that family members and friends can play with youth who are willing to disclose about their self-injury. Firstly, the ability to listen and understand from a non-judgmental perspective will help to create an atmosphere of trust and support. Depending on the situation, assisting youth in talking with professionals may include helping them to decide whom they might wish to speak with and assisting them or even going with them to their first appointment.

TheSite.org offers key information around self-harm, including:

  • How friends and families can help
  • What you can do if you want to support someone
  • Looking after yourself while you are helping someone else
  • What you can still do even if your friend or family member doesn’t feel able to talk about their self-injury

As a parent, what other things can you do?

  • Encourage your youth to navigate the youth section of this website
  • Educate yourself about non-suicidal self-injury
  • Depending on the situation, help your youth to find professional help
  • Support attendance at therapist/ doctor appointments

It is important to appreciate that you may need both patience and persistence in order to help your youth. As a
parent, your involvement in any course of treatment can be beneficial. Knowledge about self-injury can help you, as a parent, make informed decisions on how best to seek advice and/or treatment and provide support for youth. You may find the following links below helpful.

The UK-based LifeSIGNS Self-Injury Guidance and Network Support Group’s website is a clear and helpful resource for both youth who self-injury, as well as for friends and family.

This link will take you to their page offering ‘guidance for others’ (friends, family, professionals) who want to help youth who self-injure.

MindCheck.ca provides teens with information about to recognizing early signs and finding ways to deal with them to increase the chances of better long-term outcomes and positive mental health across the lifespan.
Visit the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry website by clicking on the image on the right for an article with ‘Facts for Families’ about Self-Injury in Adolescents.
The Secret Shame: Self-Injury and Support website has a number of resources for both youth who self-injure and their families and friends. Once you are on the site, click on the Family/friend link on the left-hand side.

If you visit the ‘Interactive’ section of this site, you will also find a Web Board for friends, partners and families.

Families Organized for Recognition and Care Equality (F.O.R.C.E.) is based in British Columbia and runs support groups for families dealing with mental health issues.
The Canadian Mental Health Association has resources on their website about Understanding Mental Illness, and Self-Injury in Youth. Read their page about coping with mental illness in the family by clicking on the link at the right. Or, visit their page about Youth and Self-Injury.

Here to Help is a British Columbia based information resource for individuals and families dealing with mental health issues.

Visit their page with resources on supporting a family member who has mental health issues.

Visit the Mind Your Mind website to read about how you can help a friend who is dealing who is down, worried or depressed. This page isn’t self-injury specific, but it provides some good tips on how to approach someone you care about who is going through a rough time.

These books are useful resources for parents who have self-injuring adolescents:

Merry E. McVey-Noble, Sony Khemlani-Patel, & Fugen Neziroglu. When Your Child is Cutting: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Overcome Self-Injury. (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2006).

Table of Contents Introduction

  1. Self-Injury: Just the Facts
  2. Mind and Body: The Psychological and Biological Bases of Self-Injury
  3. Environmental Factors in Self-Injury
  4. Consequences of Cutting
  5. How do I Approach my Child about Cutting?
  6. Responding to Answers: Common Obstacles to Communication about Self-Injury
  7. Psychological Treatment Options
  8. What to Expect During Treatment
  9. Support Your Child’s Recovery
  10. Specific Skills to Use at Home: Name It, Tame It, Break it Down
  11. Appendix
  12. Frequently Asked Questions
Hollander, Michael. Helping Teens Who Cut: Understanding and Ending Self-Injury. (New York, NY: The Guilford Press, 2008).

This book, Helping Teens Who Cut: Understanding and Ending Self-Injury, is specifically for parents and focuses on understanding self-injury, communication with teens and the use of dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) as a treatment for self injury.

This website is intended for educational and information purposes only. It is not intended to provide, nor should it be considered to be a substitute for, professional medical, counselling, or legal services. Users of the site are strongly advised to discuss the content of the site with a qualified professional. INSYNC does not accept any liability for any person who relies on the content of this site.