For Family and Friends


Welcome to our Family and Friends page. This page is to help family members and friends of youth who self-injure find good information about self-injury.

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.

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.

Visions – young people: self-injury

Visions - young people: self-injuryThis journal includes articles by youth who self injury and families and shares their stories. Understanding the journey of others can sometimes be helpful in finding your own path or helping others who self injury. It also includes a summary of research and practical suggestions for professionals by clinicians and researchers. Young People: Self-injury, from self harm to self care, you can’t know if you don’t ask (Visions; BC’s Mental Health and Addictions Journal, Vol13 No.2, 2017)

Guidance for others | LifeSIGNS

LifeSIGNS Self-Injury Guidance and Network Support

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.

Self injury Outreach and Support

Self injury Outreach and Support is a website sponsored by researchers at the University of Guelph and McGill that provides information for a range of individuals involved in the care of youth who self injure .

Caring for Young People Who Self-Harm: A Review of Perspectives from Families and Young People

Caring for Young People Who Self-Harm: A Reviewof Perspectives from Families and Young People

This article from Australian and New Zealand researchers compiles information from a number of studies about caregivers and NSSI.

Here to Help: Self-Harm

Here to Help: Self-Harm

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

Visit their page with information on self harm.

Mind Your Mind

Visit the Mind Your Mind website to read about how you can help a friend who is dealing who is in crisis. 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 may be useful resources for parents who have self-injuring adolescents:


When Your Child is Cutting: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Overcome Self-Injury

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

Helping Teens Who Cut: Using DBT skills to End Self-Injury

Helping Teens Who Cut, Second EditionHollander, Michael. Helping Teens Who Cut: Using DBT skills to End Self-Injury. (New York, NY: The Guilford Press, 2017).

This second edition book, Helping Teens Who Cut:Using DBT Skills to End 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.