Ask Sam letter


To Sam

How do I tell my friend I self-harm?

Hi :) I recently told my friend I've been seeing a councillor, but I didn't say why. She's a great friend so she didn't ask too much. I really want to tell her why I've had to see the councillor, but I'm really nervous about how she could react. I self harmed up until a month or two ago, and I really want to be able to talk to her about it. Any advice?? Thanks.
Ask Sam


Hi there,

When telling someone about self-harm, it’s important that you feel ready as you don’t know how they will react. It's also important to choose the right time for you and them.

If you choose to speak with them in person, it can help to practise what you want to say so it is clear and you feel confident. You could practise in front of a mirror, with your counsellor, or with a ChildLine counsellor.

Choose a time when you are both relaxed, and go somewhere private where you won’t be interrupted. Start by saying you have something important you want to say, that it might be a shock, but you would like her not to react until you have finished. Be honest with your friend – it's okay to say you are feeling nervous about their reaction.

Perhaps say you want to share more about your counselling because you value her friendship, and want to be open. Together you could look at our page on self-harm to get the conversation started.

Alternatively, you could share it in an email and arrange to see your friend the next day. That way they have time to read what you shared, and work through their feelings before you meet up.

Your friend might want to know how they can help you or have lots of questions about self-harm. Perhaps you could suggest they look at the National Self Harm Network website which has information on self-harm and helpful tips on how to support someone.

Be prepared for their different reactions. They might be surprised, worried, angry, or upset. It’s okay and natural for a friend to express their feelings. Try not to get defensive, you have had time to get used to your self-harm, your friend will also need time.

Finally, prepare things you can do if you don’t get the reaction you would like. For example you could watch a favourite film, talk to your friends or family, go for walk, or have a selection of funny YouTube videos to watch. 

I hope this helps,

Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

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