LAST week, a report was released by the World Health Authority, where 6,000 teenagers in England were studied and it was found that a startling one in five of the 15-year-olds had self-harmed in the previous year. It would appear that the rate of young people self-harming has trebled over the past ten years and this massive rise is getting a lot of health experts very worried.
Self-harming is a mysterious thing for many people to get their heads around. Why would seemingly normal people resort to either cutting themselves with knives, scissors or razor blades, or do other things to cause pain or injury to their bodies?
It is important to say that this is rarely connected to suicidal thoughts; most people who self-harm have no wish to die. The person who self-harms appears to be doing this as a way of controlling stress and distress. Self-harmers will often describe a sense of relief when they injure themselves.
Although some try it once and never do it again, others use self-harm more frequently as a way of managing difficult feelings and many experts talk about it as a form of addiction. Most people do this in secret, because they may feel ashamed or guilty, and it is often a real shock and upset for parents when they find out.
If you suspect your child is self-harming, trying to support him or her and listen is really important. Getting angry and confrontational is not likely to be helpful. Encourage the child to talk and possibly to seek the help of an expert. The website http://selfharm.co.uk/home has some excellent advice and can link young people with others who are going through similar experiences.