A Friend Has Cuts On Her Arm And Told Me She's Depressed

Published: June 02, 2014
Dear A Friend Has Cuts On Her Arm And Told Me She's Depressed,

There is this girl who's a friend of mine but we aren't really that close. I care about her but we don't talk that much. Last week she pulled up her jacket sleeve and I noticed that she had cuts on her arm. They were all one after another in a row, so it's obvious they weren't just from an accident. I didn't say anything at the time because I had no idea what to do. Then just a few days ago she told me that she's been feeling depressed. I really want to say something to her and help her. But I'm worried she'll think I'm over stepping my boundaries because I'm not that close of a friend to her. What do I do to help her? I've been down that rode before and I know what it feels like. So I don't want to see anybody feel that way. Thanks for the help!

Dear A Friend Has Cuts On Her Arm And Told Me She's Depressed,

Even though you aren’t that close with this person, TeenHealthFX thinks that it is important for you to do something to be helpful to her given what you know about her situation. FX can appreciate that in not being close to her you might feel you are overstepping some boundaries in reaching out to her, but the fact that this girl let you see her cuts and told you she is depressed indicates that she is looking for you (or someone) to intervene to help her in some way.

FX suggests you start by talking to her directly. You could say something like, “I know we’re not that close, so I hope you don’t feel like I’m overstepping any bounds here, but I’ve been worried about you ever since I saw the cuts on your arm and you told me that you are depressed.” You could wait to see how she responds to this. Then you could ask her if she is currently meeting with a therapist to deal with the self-cutting and depression. If she is not, FX recommends that you encourage her to do so. You could let her know that her parents, doctor, or a school counselor could help her get a referral for a reputable clinical psychologist or clinical social worker in the area. If she seems hesitant about the idea you could always disclose to her that you dealt with similar issues in the past and that you think it would be a helpful thing for her to do.

If she is resistant to getting any help and won’t change her mind about it, then FX recommends that you speak to your school social worker or school psychologist about your concerns. If your friend doesn’t want to reach out to any adults about the issues she is dealing with, then it might take the influence of an adult to get her the professional help that she needs.