One In Ten Teenage Girls Have Self-Harmed

Armen Hareyan's picture
Advertisement

Teens and Self-Harm

In a survey of more than 6,000 15 and 16-year-old school pupils, researchers found that girls are four times more likely to have engaged in deliberate self-harm compared to boys, with 11 per cent of girls and 3 per cent of boys reporting that they had self-harmed within the last year.

Previous estimates for the amount self-harm in the country were based on the 25,000 'presentations' at hospitals in England and Wales each year that are the result of deliberate self-poisoning or self-injury amongst teenagers.

However, research by academics from the universities of Bath and Oxford has found that only 13 per cent of self-harming incidents reported by the pupils had resulted in a hospital visit.

Although self-poisoning is the most common form of self-harm reported in hospitals, the study revealed that self-cutting was the more prevalent form of self-harm (64.5 per cent), followed by self-poisoning through overdose (31 per cent).

Advertisement

"The study shows that deliberate self-harm is common amongst teenagers in England, especially in girls who are four times more likely to self-harm than boys," said Dr Karen Rodham from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath.

"Until now, most studies of deliberate self-harm in adolescents in the UK have been based on the cases that reach hospital."

"We have found that the true extent of self-harm in England is significantly wider than that."

Professor Keith Hawton from the Centre for Suicide Research at the University of Oxford, who directed the project, said: "This study provides more information about why young people engage in deliberate self-harm and helps us to recognise those at risk, to develop explanatory models and to design effective prevention programmes. In many cases, self-harming behaviour represents a transient period of distress, but for others it is an important indicator of mental health problems and a risk of suicide. It is important that we develop effective school-based initiatives that help tackle what has become a most pressing health issue for teenagers."

The research, which was carried out with Samaritans, has been published in the new book, By their own young hand, which includes practical advice for teachers on how to detect young people at risk

Advertisement