19,000 children were taken in to hospital after harming themselves in the last year, reports the childrens’ charity NSPCC. Which is in an increase in 14% over the past three years.
Childline, a service provided by the NSPCC, says self-harming is found to be one of the frequent issues why they are contacted. Teenagers between 13-17 are the most likely to end up at a hospital due to overdosing on pills, burning themselves or even cutting their bodies. Through a day about 50 children are given counselling on self-harm, during the previous year the helpline had dealt with more than 18,00 calls regarding the same issue.
President of Childline Dame Esther Rantzen says: “Self-harming is at epidemic level among young people”. She said many a time young people felt remorseful and fearful to ask for help from those near them. It is not till the young people had seriously harmed themselves that they were hurried to hospital.
Sophie Allen, now 32, began with self-harming at the age of about 11 or 12. Allen says that she “stumbled” across self-harm following accidently hurting herself at a time when she was feeling particularly sad after being bullied and facing many changes in her life.
She tells BBC Radio 5 live that “I just felt so distracted form the inner turmoil because I was so focused on the physical injury, that when I felt low again I remembered what distracted me before”.
“It was just a way to share the distress that I was feeling without being able to find the world to say that I was struggling”. Allen says that, the feelings at that time as a “massive release-people cannot understand that the process is like a weight being lifted”. She further adds “However, that’s very, very short-lived… a few hours later the shame sets in, the guilt sets in.”
Sophie Allen says she was ultimately treated when she attempted suicide at the age of 15 and ended up in hospital. At that time, she was also proposed counselling. Now she works for Harmless- a self-harming charity in the East Midlands.
Help can be provided in various ways. “One way of providing this early intervention is for all schools to deliver comprehensive Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE) education “says Dr Max Davie of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Through this subject children will learn “about emotional wellbeing and addressing challenging mental health issues such as eating disorders, self-harm and suicide- in addition to other important topics like positive relationships, sex education and the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse. However presently Schools are not obliged to offer the subject PSHE.
A personal way to help the child is firstly, to listen, understand and show empathy. Then it is important to talk about it and try work how what is making them self-harm. One should also build up their confidence and show they can trust you and support them to find new ways to cope.