There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people harming themselves deliberately in the past five years in Britain, according to a new survey.
The biggest rise in self-harm and attempted suicide has been among young women between the ages of 16 and 24, struggling to cope with the pressures of modern living.
According to the research led by World Health Organisation (WHO), there were 97,871 hospital admissions for deliberate self-harm in England in 2007-08, of which 4,337 were children under the age of 14.
Moreover, the researchers saw an 80 per cent increase in the number of cases of self-harm since 2000.
"Self-harm is often a secret activity and people will avoid going to hospital if possible. So the fact we've seen such a substantial rise in hospital admissions is worrying and could be the tip of the iceberg," the Indepent quoted Dr. Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation as saying.
"Research we carried out last year with Girlguiding UK showed that even very young girls are feeling the strains of modern life and the pressure to grow up too quickly.
"A rise in reported self-harm among young women in their late teens and early twenties fits in with that picture, and unfortunately suggests that there's a whole generation of young women who feel such emotional distress, and that many of them are turning to self-harm in an attempt to cope," he added.
The researchers suggest that psychological and physical stress triggered by inequalities in income has led to an increase in mental, and physical health problems.
Youngsters surrounded by stories of rich and famous are struggling with the lifestyles that are unattainable for the majority.
"It is much harder to be an adolescent these days. Young people are surrounded by an obscenely rich celebrity culture, and kids want to have those things too. Others I come across are excluded from society and cannot imagine living beyond 30," said Dr Peter Byrne, a consultant psychiatrist in A andE and self-harm specialist.
The shadow health minister Anne Milton, who obtained the hospital admission figures, said: "These startling figures are yet another example of the surge in mental health issues that the UK has experienced in recent times. The sharp rise shows that the government policy has failed to sufficiently prioritise mental health and early intervention. We must focus more on reducing stigma and proactive prevention rather than crisis management."
Experts have called upon to treat mental illness as a wider public health and social problem, instead of just spending money on specialist treatments and psychological therapies.