Please help me, my family has discovered my younger sister is self-harming but she won't admit it. We've told her to speak to someone about it but she says there's nothing wrong. Please help, we're frantic with worry.
Sorry to hear about the situation with your sister and you do, understandably, sound very upset and worried about it all. Self-harm affects many young people and seeing someone you love harm themselves can be very difficult and distressing. Often people feel very shocked, upset or even angry with the person who is self-harming. By contacting askTheSite, you have made a positive step towards getting support with this difficult situation.
Many people who self-harm do so to cope with emotional distress, and for some, it can be a way of surviving, but it is important not to make assumptions and each person will have their own reasons for self-harming. Some people do it to cope with the pressures of everyday life, for example, exams or peer pressure. Or they may do it to deal with painful experiences such as bullying or bereavement, or perhaps relationship difficulties or even abuse. Obviously, we cannot suggest why your sister is harming herself, but these are some of the more common reasons.
It sounds like, from what you say, that you and your family have spoken to your sister about this on some level. You mentioned she will not admit it, this is a common response, as people can feel ashamed or may find it difficult to explain why. Rather than focussing on the self-harming behaviour, you might want to think about talking to her about her emotions and her reasons for doing it. Showing her you are there and you are accepting of her situation might be a first step in getting her to open up. This may be very difficult for you, as often the temptation can be to solve the problem, but giving her time and space may help lead to her seeking help in the future.
Also, if your sister feels she would like to talk to someone else about her harming, perhaps someone she is not so close to, she may like to consider counselling or therapy. Also, there are several services around the country that specialise in treating self-harm. These are generally accessed via a referral from a local doctor (GP), which could be an option for the future. Also, although this might seem an extreme suggestion, going to an accident and emergency department at a hospital can be an option, particularly if your sister has harmed herself in a way you think is potentially dangerous.
If you would like more information about self-harm, you might consider looking at the information produced by Mind or Bristol Crisis Service for Women. Also, if you would like to talk to someone about the situation or would like to work through your own feelings, you could call SANELINE on 0845 767 8000 from 12pm-2am everyday.
Finally, coping with someone close to you who is self-harming can be hard and emotional for you too. It is important for you and your family to have an outlet for your feelings about the situation and to get adequate support from friends, family or other organisations, such as those mentioned above.
Question answered by SANE