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Self Harming Teenagers on the Rise in Britain

by Medindia Content Team on  March 27, 2006 at 4:54 PM Mental Health News   - G J E 4
Self Harming Teenagers on the Rise in Britain
Some teens are so troubled that they attempt at Self harm. Now, there seems to be an alarming rise of this trend in epidemic proportions in Britain, with one adolescent in 12, knowingly causing themselves regular harm.
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A report that has delved deep into the matter and is due for publication, says that this trend is becoming so common that in any classroom, there are at least two, who self harm. Catherine McLoughlin, chairwoman of the team spearheading a national inquiry into self-harm, said 'We have the highest rate of self-harm in Europe, but the universal misunderstanding about self-harm is so overwhelming that numbers will rise even further unless we act immediately.'

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According to her, the ratio of adolescents who attempt at self-harm was nearly 1:5, and they were all shrouded in guilt and secrecy. The panel also found that even children as young as five were purposefully hurting themselves, while their families were blissfully ignorant. 'This is a hidden epidemic of horrific proportions and we know virtually nothing about why it happens or how to stop it,' said McLoughlin. 'Basically, we understand about as much about self-harm as we did about anorexia 20 years ago.'

A pilot scheme, started by the South Staffordshire NHS Trust, with a motive that supervision holds the key to help in coming out of the problem and coping with it - allows self-harmers to cut themselves under the supervision of nurses. All measures to ensure their safety is undertaken, while parallel efforts are ongoing to inspire self harmers to kick the habit.

The reasons why young people do this to themselves hovered around a range of factors that included bullying, not getting on with parents, stress and worrying about academic performance and exams. Experiences of family strife, bereavement, racial problems and low self-esteem were the overriding causes for this abnormal behavior.

McLaughlin said, 'Over and over again, the young people told us that their experience of asking for help often made their situation worse. Others were met with ridicule or hostility from the professionals they turned to for help.'

Linda Dunion, director of the See Me campaign, whose key agenda is to spread the awareness of the issue in Scotland, says 'Our research shows that over 40 per cent of adults think young people who self-harm are attention-seeking, one in three feel they are manipulative and 15 per cent believe it is the sign of a failed suicide attempt.'

Jackie Cox, a psychologist and counsellor at Harrow school said that self harm speaks of a young person struggling to survive. 'Self-harm is a sign of emotional distress. It is a survival mechanism that young people use to cope with underlying emotional and psychological trauma.'

According to Cox, 'Self-harm can trigger chemicals that bring about a very positive feeling of calm and wellbeing. But greater levels of harm often have to be inflicted to achieve the same effect, which can lead to an injury requiring professional treatment, or worse.'

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