Research through an online, self-selecting survey asking young people about their experiences of self-harm was hosted by ChildLine, selfharm.co.uk, YouthNet and YoungMinds during January. The research found that, among 1,398 young people surveyed, more than half admitted to hurting themselves on a daily basis or a few times a week. The survey revealed that 41 per cent of young people who had hurt themselves had not told anybody about it, and those who did were most likely to tell friends first. However, the large majority felt that this hadn’t helped and still went on to hurt themselves as a way of ‘coping’.
Counsellors at the ChildLine base in the East Midlands received 528 contacts from children about self harm last year, 2010/11. This is a 32% increase on the previous year. The main concerns that children mentioned when they contacted ChildLine about self harm were depression, family relationships, mental health issues and suicide. X-Factor and N-Dubz star Tulisa is backing the campaign and encouraging young people to talk to someone:
“It’s incredibly sad that so many young people are using self-harm as a way to deal with their issues and that many are suffering in silence. I’ve experienced difficult periods in the past but having somebody to talk to makes a world of difference. I know many young people don’t have this and I hope they can be made aware that they can contact the charities supporting this campaign to give them the care, help and support they need.”
The survey also showed that:
- 86 per cent of respondents had injured themselves, the survey is not representative of the whole population.
- Respondents cited feeling depressed as the main reason for hurting themselves. Feeling lonely and family problems also accounted for a high proportion of self-injury cases. Cutting was the most common way of self-harming with 81 percent of young people adopting this method. Scratching was also high at 71 per cent.
- Boys are significantly less likely to tell anyone about their self-harming behaviour than girls.
Speaking on behalf of the four charities, Sue Minto from ChildLine said: “We’ve seen from rising hospital admissions and requests for all services that self-harm is a critical issue for young people. Nationally ChildLine alone has seen a 59 per cent increase in the number of self-harm related counselling interactions in 2010/2011 compared to the previous year. The overall number of ChildLine counselling interactions, across all issues, increased by 42 per cent, so the proportion of self-harm related activity is rising at a significantly higher rate.
“Speaking up about self-harm is not easy, and this is particularly the case for young men. Our charities are coming together to raise awareness of the range of support available for children, teenagers, parents and those working with young people. Whether someone is experiencing self-harm themselves, or becomes a trusted confident for someone who is, we want to ensure they are able to easily access appropriate support.”
In 2010/11 the East Midlands base received 308 contacts from girls compared to just 29 contacts from boys.
The charities, who between them offer helplines, online and face-to-face support and training for those who work with children and young people, are calling on anyone who knows a young person who is, or is at risk of, injuring themselves to get in touch with the relevant charity, who can provide the advice and support they need.
A video supporting this campaign and further information can be found at http://www.childline.org.uk/selfharm