A girl I know is cutting – what should I do?
What do you say when you know someone is hurting themselves? What you should say depends on a variety of factors, but whether or not to say something shouldn't be a question.
A girl comes to school with all of the disgusting cuts on her arms and is pretty open to her friends about what she did. She says she cuts to get attention from her mom, who pretty much ignores her, and I know she definitely should not be doing that. I just wanted your advice…should I say something to her? I talk to her every once in a while and I feel like I should say something encouraging…but what? Or should I just stay out of it? After all…she hasn't really talked to me about. Just looking for some advice….
Thanks for writing about this young woman in your school who is cutting. I really want to encourage you to tell a trusted adult about it. That is absolutely the best thing you can do. For years, I have known your teacher and your school's DRE (Director of Religious Education) and you can totally trust either one of them to do what is best with that information and to do what is best for this young woman. There are a couple of reasons that I think you need to do this…
First of all, you are not totally equipped, as one of her peers, to give her all of the help that she needs. Of course you can and should pray for her, which I totally encourage you to do. Pray for her every day. And, pray that if the Lord Jesus wants you to say something encouraging that He will give you His words. But, as I am sure you can imagine, someone who is cutting needs counseling to help them get to the root of what is going on. Whether there is a deep need for love or attention, or some far deeper pain that needs to be dealt with, she needs professional help. Perhaps she is already getting counseling, but maybe she isn't. You need to tell a trusted adult at your school so that they can make sure that this young lady's parents know about what is going on; they can make sure that she is getting the help that she needs.
The other reason that you need to tell a trusted adult is because someone who is cutting could possibly be at risk for hurting herself in a far more permanent way – you know what I mean. If you were to keep this to yourself, and if she were to hurt herself in a more serious way or even take her own life, that would be so tragic, on so many levels. It would be devastating – especially if you had information and could have done something to get her help but didn't do that. So tell someone at your school that is a trusted adult. You will feel so much better when you do.
You are kind of lucky that her cutting is public knowledge. It sounds like several people know about it. So when you tell the trusted adult, I think it would be fair to ask them to keep your name out of any reporting to the parents. It is possible that you have some concern about being a ‘tattle-tale' or that this girl might get mad at you. But if you tell a trusted adult what lots of people already know, I feel confident that they will be able to keep your name out of it.
Trust me, you will feel tons better when you do this. And there are a couple of articles on the this website that might help you to understand ‘cutters' better. Read them here –
I would love to be kept posted as to how things are going with this situation. Feel free to keep in touch.
NOTE FROM PAUL – I was contacted later and was told that the school authorities were notified, that the young lady who was cutting received the help she needed, and that the confidentiality of her friend remained intact.