So I was cutting myself, but my parents found out and want to send me to a ‘special’ school for a few weeks to learn other ways to deal with stress. I am worried about what to tell my friends because they would ask why I would be absent and they might judge me for cutting myself. What is a way to tell them so that they might not think any less of me for it?

My friends and I constantly make jokes about controversial topics including self-harm, and it doesn’t bother me at all, I think it is hilarious. Perhaps I could almost do it in a joking manner?

They have no idea about me harming myself because I was doing it in places usually covered by clothes. (upper arm.)

  • Is lying an option? Or do you want them to know the real reason? Mar 21, 2018 at 17:57
  • 1
    I don’t like the idea of lying to my friends, I want them to be people that I can trust and they can trust me.
    – Dagoth Ur
    Mar 21, 2018 at 17:59
  • 6
    @DagothUr As much as I appreciate having you accept my answer so quickly, I would suggest waiting a bit longer and seeing what others have to say. There are lots of really smart people on this SE with lots of great ideas that might be better than mine.
    – Arthas
    Mar 21, 2018 at 18:13

3 Answers 3


As long as you're personally going to take going to the school seriously and given your history of joking with your friends about controversial topics like this, I think using humor is a great idea.

Something like:

Yeah, turns out I'm an emo kid. Been cutting myself. Parents are sending me off to the emo farm to learn how to live with the other emos.

Please excuse my lack of creativity here; I'm not exactly a self harm joke master

I'd follow up by clarifying any parts of your joke that might be exaggerations/fictitious without getting "too serious" with it.

Note: I don't necessarily condone joking about serious matters like self harm in most situations. I particularly thought humor would work here given OP's relationship with his friends as it's a good way of softening the blow of finding out a friend has had troubles.

  • 1
    Joking about serious topics can help talking about them in a serious manner, later, if needed. Great answer.
    – Mafii
    Mar 22, 2018 at 10:24

This is a time when i think you need to sit down and say , Hey I need to get serious here. Tell them what has happened , how your dealing with it, where your going, and how much support you want from them. For example, I have kept this from you guys. I was worried what you all would think of me, but I am going to need others to help with this problem. I am going to (name of p[lace) I really need to be there right now to get control of this, I will let you know when I am coming home. I know I will need all of you guys support once I am back home and before I go. Thanks for being here for me.


You could also be generic about it: "I'm going to be away for a few weeks for a medical thing. You don't need the gory details, but my parents thought this would be a good time to address it. It's not cancer or anything, but addressing this should improve my quality of life."

Mental health is part of overall health, so it is accurate to say it's medical. If you have some friends who are especially considerate or close to you, you could choose to tell them more one-on-one (using words like what Arthas and one suggest). You might give those friends instructions on how/whether you want them to tell the other friends about it.

By suggesting the phrase, "It's not cancer or anything," I don't want to minimize what you're facing, but it might help keep the others from imagining that they need to visit you in your hospital bed before you die. You could honestly say, "It's not life-threatening" instead, if it's not linked to suicidal thoughts for you.

I had a friend in college who took a year off for mental health reasons. She made up a reason she wouldn't be there for a year, and it wasn't until we became better friends later that she told me the real reason. I wasn't offended or anything, especially because it was probably stressful to say goodbye to everyone and would've been overwhelming to have to share the details with everyone and teach them about mental illness and deal with their reactions.

By the way, I'm so glad you thought to ask about this on SE. My parents would have been oblivious to the whole emotional aspect of leaving school and feeling embarrassed about it, and I wouldn't have known who else to ask for advice.

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