SELF-harm rates among young people have surged as new figures show that one in four women in the UK deliberately hurt themselves.
Suicide prevention charity Samaritans warns that self-harm is a strong predictor of future suicide risk, and says people need to better understand the link.
New research into self-harm and the support available has been commissioned by the charity to mark World Suicide Prevention Day today.
Samaritans, which will be talking to young people who have self-harmed as part of the study, will also investigate the link it has with people taking their own lives.
Self-harm can be an early warning sign that somebody may go on to attempt suicide, which is why it’s important to talk about it.
The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues and encourage people to seek help.
This week, we’re turning the focus to young people and the pressures they face and look at just WHY modern life is so challenging for teens and share how you can spot the signs your child is at risk.
Jacqui Morrissey, assistant director of research and influencing at Samaritans, says the increase in self-harm among young people is “extremely worrying”.
Together we need to ensure young people are aware of healthy coping mechanisms when they are struggling.
More than a quarter of women aged between 16 and 24 had self-harmed at some point, according to Samaritans’ Annual Suicide Statistics Report.
Self-harm is a sign of serious emotional distress and while most people will not go on to take their own life, longer term self-harm is associated with developing thoughts of suicide, the charity says.
Ms Morrissey said: “Together we need to ensure young people are aware of healthy coping mechanisms when they are struggling.”
The Government “lacks a clear plan on how to reach those who self-harm, particularly young people and those who aren’t engaged with health services”, she added.
In 2014, six per cent of people had intentionally harmed themselves at some point in their life, according to a recent study published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
That figure was up from two per cent in 2000 – with the highest rate among girls and women aged 16 to 24.
Emma Thomas, chief executive of charity YoungMinds, said: “The rise in rates of self-harm – particularly among girls and young women – is alarming.
“At the moment, it’s far too difficult for children and young people to get mental health support before they reach crisis point.
“The Government has promised extra investment, which must make a real difference to frontline services – but we also need to see action so young people can get early support in their communities.”
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- Movember, www.uk.movember.com
The study provided the first evidence of long-term trends in non-suicidal self-harm in England, the researchers said.
Lead author Sally McManus, from the National Centre for Social Research, said: “We need to help people, especially young people, learn more appropriate and effective ways of dealing with emotional stress.
“The availability of services needs to be improved, especially for young people, so that health, education and social care professionals can discuss the subject with them and support better emotional health.”
The availability of services needs to be improved, especially for young people
World Suicide Prevention Day is being marked with events across the country including talks and fundraisers, according to the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).
In London around 200 pairs of empty pairs of shoes will be left outside Parliament to represent the children who kill themselves each year.
Health campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, which is organising the demonstration today, said it aims to “highlight the appalling threat to young people that a lack of investment in mental health services have”.
“Every life lost is not only an individual tragedy but one that affects many others including family, friends and the wider community,” the organisers said.
“We believe along with leading charities that the Government can and must now treat this crisis as a public health emergency.”
MORE FROM YOU'RE NOT ALONE
World Suicide Prevention Day is an annual awareness-raising event held on September 10, organised by the IASP.
Last week official figures revealed that the number of suicides has risen for the first time since 2013, with a significant increase among men.
A total of 6,507 suicides were registered in the UK last year.
The key signs your loved one is at risk of suicide
There are several warning signs that a person is at risk of suicide. But it’s vital to know that they won’t always be obvious.
While some people are quite visibly in pain and become withdrawn and depressed, others may continue their life as normal pretending everything is fine.
Look out for subtle personality changes in friends and family, especially if you know they have been going through a tough time, Lorna told The Sun Online.
These are the key signs to watch out for:
- A change in routine, such as sleeping or eating less than normal
- Struggling to sleep, lacking energy or appearing particularly tired
- Drinking, smoking or using drugs more than usual
- Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
- Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
- Becoming withdrawn from friends and family – not wanting to talk or be with people
- Appearing more tearful
- Appearing restless, agitated, nervous, irritable
- Putting themselves down in a serious or jokey way, for example ‘Oh, no one loves me’, or ‘I’m a waste of space’
- Losing interest in their appearance, not liking or taking care of themselves or feeling they don’t matter
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans (free) on 116 123.