Text for help from a woman who is cutting……

by Rod Smith

“There’s a young woman cutting herself outside my flat. What can I tell her?”

(Text received from South Africa)

Assess the level of urgency.

Does she need an ambulance or your presence?

If it’s the latter, your presence is more important than your words.

Be very respectful.

Be calm.

Be gentle.

Ask if she wants you to say anything at all.

If she tells you to be quiet, be quiet. Tell her you will sit with her in silence.

Allow the quietness between you to settle in, and this could take a long while, then tell her gently that you are willing to listen to her for as long as she wants to speak, and that you will not say a word while she talks or try to rearrange her thoughts or mess with her feelings.

If she tells you that you may talk, tell her very gently, after much silence, that there is help available to people who think that hurting themselves is helpful; that while her strong feelings that result in her inflicting pain upon herself may offer her a tangible outlet for her strong feelings, there are steps available toward more permanent relief from whatever she is facing.

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