Self Injury Help

Dealing with Students Who Self-Injure

What To Do

  • Approach the student in an accepting, non-judgmental way. Believe that the student is truly doing their best to take care of themselves in that moment.
  • Assess extent of current injury. Does this person need immediate medical attention or can they attend to their wounds themselves?
    • If necessary, call 911
    • If not, allow student to care for themselves
  • Be direct and specific.
    • You can say something like, "Some of your friends (or other residents) have told me that you are (or have been) cutting (or burning, scratching, etc.) yourself. I know that people hurt themselves for a lot of different reasons and I am wondering if you'd like to talk about it?"
    • If they are willing to talk, make sure you follow up with "Do you ever think about killing yourself?"
    • "It sounds like you have a lot going on. I'd like to get you connected with someone who can help" is a good way to start a referral to the Counseling Center.
    • You can help the student contact the Counseling Center at 829-7819 or by emailing or

What NOT to do

  • Don't assume it's a suicide attempt. Don't assume it's not. Ask the student if they are suicidal, want to die, etc.
  • Don't try to fix or cure them. Your role is to listen empathically, determine if an ambulance is necessary, and to follow protocol for emergency situations if needed.
  • Don't allow a student to self-injure in front of you. Let them know you are willing to listen and to help, but you are not comfortable watching that.
  • Don't lecture. People harm themselves for a variety of reasons, and for some it feels like the only way for them to cope with their current feelings/situation. Adding guilt or shame to their obvious emotional distress is not helpful.

* You can always contact the Counseling Center with any questions. *

Contact Us

Personal Counseling Center
Campus location: Marguerite Hall, 1st FL
Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Evening Hours by Appointment
Phone: (716) 829-7819

Kim Zittel, LMHC, NCC
Director, Personal Counseling Center
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
National Certified Counselor

Erin M. Moss, MA, LMHC-P
Mental Health Counselor

Isabel Molina, APRN BC
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner


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