A RECENT study shows a dramatic increase in the number of children and young people self-harming in the past 10 years.

Statistics, published by NHS Digital, showed that the upward trend is more common amongst girls, and experts say that the increase may be a result of social pressures on children.

The surge in under-18s being admitted to hospital for self-harming such as poisoning, cutting, or hanging themselves has also risen in both boys and girls.

thumbnail_Self harm graph

The number of young girls who have needed hospital treatment after ingesting a poisonous substance has risen by 42 per cent over the past 10 years, compared to boys which has almost remained the same.

However, the number of under 18-year-old girls who end up in hospital after self-harming by cutting themselves has nearly quadrupled over the same period, from 600 to 2,311 collated by NHS Digital.

Fewer boys have been shown to end up in hospital from cutting themselves, yet incidents have still risen by 286 per cent in the last 10 years.

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Nick Harrop, Media and Campaigns Manager at YoungMinds said: “It’s extremely worrying that the number of young people needing hospital treatment for self-harm has risen so sharply.

“We know from our research that young people face a huge range of pressures, including stress at school, college or university, body image issues, bullying on and offline, around-the-clock social media and uncertain job prospects.”

He also added that difficult experiences in childhood – including bereavement, domestic violence or abuse – can also have a serious impact on mental health, often several years down the line.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Sandra Neil, from the NHS Trust said: “The cause of self-harm in young people is multifaceted and complex. It is likely that there are central themes such as social pressures, trauma and low self-esteem.

“However, self-harm is a behaviour, it serves as a function for the individual and this might be different for each person.”

Dr Neil added that a concerted effort needs to be made to educate the population both in identifying the damage done by self-harm, and how to react and support someone seeking help.

With 97% of young people believing self-harm should be addressed in schools, and 2/3rds say it should be part of lessons, it appears young people agree that the issue should be addressed.

Greg Burgess, deputy chief executive of PAPYRUS, echoed this view. He said: “To prevent this from continuing to happen is about getting people to be trained in dealing with self-harming.

“This means it’s about getting paramedics, nurses, police officers, and teachers trained in dealing with incidents of suicide and what they can do about it.

Mr Burgess noted that local authority staff should have training in dealing with self-harm and suicidal issues.

He said: “If it is because of personal issues like bullying, self-confidence, or trauma, then local authorities should all play a part to make sure any staff has training in supporting these people. We all have a part to play.”

For confidential suicide prevention advice and support, call PAPYRUS HOPELineUK on 0800 068 41 41, text 07786 209 697, or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

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