Teenagers reporting self harm rise by a third, ChildLine figures show

Disclosures of self harm among teenagers have risen 30 per cent
in the last year, new figures from ChildLine reveal,
writes Shirley Kumar.

The children’s helpline charity counselled
more than 4,000 young people through its helpline in 2003-4. Of
these, 91 per cent were girls and 9 per cent boys.

The data, published as part of the first interim report of the
National Inquiry into Self Harm, reveals an average rise of 23 per
cent per year in the number of children speaking to ChildLine
counsellors about self-harm over the last 10 years.

The inquiry, run by the Mental Health Foundation and The Camelot
Foundation, has discovered that the majority of young people who
self-harm never reach the attention of services of professionals
and that medical advice is not sought unless treatment is required.
Of those young people who did seek help, many reported negative

The inquiry’s interim report finds that self-harm is often
used as a coping mechanism, with many young people who self-harm
lacking confidence and self-esteem.

Evidence submitted to the inquiry from ChildLine says that children
who self-harm are struggling to cope with multiple problems in
their lives, including physical or sexual abuse, bullying,
bereavement, exam stress and family breakdown.

ChildLine chief executive Carole Easton said: “We believe the
findings of the National Inquiry into self harm could and should
provide the foundation for the provision of services, therapy or
treatment that will mean young people who self harm get the support
and help they need.

“The experiences of ChildLine callers highlight the need for
directly accessible, widely available and well resourced child and
adolescent mental health services.”

The inquiry, which is due to complete by autumn 2005, aims to
educate and raise awareness about self harm, improve training for
professionals, and make policy recommendations.


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