How can I help a friend who is emo and cutting himself?

Last updated on October 1, 2020


I have a friend whom I believe God has called me to, but I don’t know how to handle the situation. He’s emo, or in other words very depressed. He cuts himself frequently and claims to have an abusive father and a neglectful mother, no siblings. I looked into what “emo” is, and it’s kind of weird. Some say that they just makeup stories like that and act all depressed for attention. I’ve known this person for a long time, but he hasn’t talked to me in at least two years because I panicked and kind of tried to force Christianity upon him. I’m not sure if he’s making up stories and such for attention or if he’s actually abused. I’m not sure what to do.


Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

A difficulty that arises when trying to help other people out of sin is that you have a tendency to get wrapped up in that person and their life. It is easy to find yourself being pulled into the same problems.

I can’t tell you if he is making up stories or not since I’ve not talked to him. I can say that people involved in cutting are some of the hardest to help that I’ve run into. It might be that self-abuse is totally contrary to my personal nature.

I don’t know what you mean by “forcing” Christianity on him since being a Christian is a personal choice. I assume you mean that you came across strongly and he rejected what you were saying. “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (II Timothy 2:23-26).

Since you haven’t talked to him in two years, I don’t know what you can do for him. A lot can change in two years. But if you are able to talk to him, the best thing you can do is listen. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with what he is saying, but try to understand why he believes as he does. When you do see how he came to an incorrect conclusion, gently point out the problem. Help him see a better way to look at life and his situation. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

Even better is if you can encourage him to talk to an adult who is experienced in helping young men like him. It is never bad to admit that a situation is more difficult than you can handle and find someone better capable to take over.