Just Found Out My Brother is Cutting Himself

Published: September 06, 2016
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I just found out that my brother is cutting himself. I'm really scared about his safety and well being. What do I do?
Signed: Just Found Out My Brother is Cutting Himself

Dear Just Found Out My Brother is Cutting Himself,

TeenHealthFX can appreciate your concern about your brother. Clearly you care about him (which is wonderful for both of you) and understandably you can appreciate that something must be going on for him if he is self-cutting.

The most important thing here is that your parents are made aware of the cutting and that your brother gets connected to professional help to address this issue. Depending on your relationship with your brother, you can go a couple of ways with this:

  • You can tell your brother that you know about his cutting, that you are really worried about it and that you would like him to tell your parents so he can get professional help. You can make it clear to him that if he doesn’t tell them, then you will.
  • You can go straight to your parents and tell them about your concerns. If your brother confronts you about it at a later point you can tell him that your decision to tell them came out of your love for him and that you hope at some point he will be able to see that.
  • If you feel it would be better for you to be left out of this for whatever reason, you can always tell your parents and ask them not to tell your brother it was you who brought it to their attention.  


Once your parents are notified about what is going on it is important that they arrange for your brother to meet with a reputable mental health professional, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist, with experience in working with teenagers and self-harming behaviors. A therapist can educate your parents and brother about self-harming behaviors and help your brother to deal with whatever issues are contributing to the cutting.

You can pass this information onto your parents if needed: If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

If you tell your parents but nothing is done to get your brother help, then FX would recommend telling your school nurse or school counselor so that someone can intervene on your brother’s behalf.

As for dealing with your brother about this, it would be helpful for you to let him know you are concerned and that you encourage him to get help. It would also be very helpful for him to know that you care about him and are there to listen if he needs to talk about anything. Whatever ways in which you can communicate your love and support would be great. And if you find that you need help in dealing with this, please speak to your parents or a school counselor to ensure that you are getting the support and guidance that you need.

Signed: TeenHealthFX