Q: I noticed that my daughter has scratches on her arm, is this self- harm? If so, what should I do?
A: It is best sit down with your daughter and have a calm conversation with her. Be honest and tell her what you have seen and ask her what happened and how the scratches got there. If you have any worries that the scratches were self-inflicted and she is not willing to talk to you, it is helpful to get a second opinion. School counsellors and your general practitioner are often the best place to start. Seek the opinion of your local area mental health team or seek emergency help if she indicates that there is a more serious problem. Tell her then.
Q: Some girls in my group have been talking about self-harming at school and a lot of people are writing about it on tumblr. I noticed by girlfriend has bandages on her but no one else has noticed. How do I help?
A: It is not breaking your friends trust or ‘dobbing’ if you talk to a responsible adult about your worries or concerns for your friend’s well-being. If you feel like you can ask your friend to go see the school counsellor with you, that’s great. It is a big responsibility to know that someone is struggling and the most helpful thing you can do is ask a trusted adult for help with your friend.
Q: My mates and I were having drinks the other night and my mate put a cigarette out on his arm. We noticed that he had burn marks all over his arm but he told us to piss off, that smileys are cool. Does he need help?
A: Yes, your friend needs help. Self-harm is not cool, and can be difficult to change as a pattern of behaviour once the person has started. Any form of self- harm can be dangerous. Piercings, tattoos, getting intoxicated are all risk taking behaviours that can increase along with self-harm. Tell your mate you are worried about him and that he should see his local doctor for help. If you are at school, you can let the school know without him knowing that you are worried how he is doing.