A large survey looking into why young people self-harm has revealed that bullying is the main reason why young people want to injure themselves.
Nearly 4000 under-25s took the online poll – commissioned by self-harm support groups, Self-harm.co.uk, ChildLine, Youth Net and Young Minds – and a majority admitted to feeling alone and isolated when they first began self-harming.
Experts from self-harm charities believe the surge in online activity has increased the likelihood of self-harming among young people who are being bullied. Bullying has occurred for years, but now it exists beyond the school gates.
Rachel Welch, from Self-harm.co.uk explains:
“[Young people] can’t escape to their bedrooms away from bullying, because with Smartphones and tablets they’re never actually on their own.”
As a result, many believe self-harm among young people has risen. One such person is Dr Alys Cole-King, a representative for the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She says:
“Research has shown that self-harm has increased recently, that in particular self-cutting has increased and we know from research that there is some contagion effect from that.”
The research she refers to are figures released by the NHS which show that 11% more young people were admitted to hospital having self-harmed in 2012 than in the previous year.
Self-harmers will injure themselves to vent frustration and replace emotional pain with physical pain, but people around them can find it hard to understand the extent of the problem.
“Self-harm is an expression of how someone is feeling, it’s not the problem itself, an expression of a very difficult emotional distress,” Rachel explained. “We’ve got into the habit of focusing on what young people are doing, cutting or burning, and we’re forgetting it’s the underlying issue we need to be digging into.”
It is hoped the new research will further spread awareness of self-harm, and help people to find the courage to speak up and seek help. With the right support, most people who self-harm can overcome underlying problems that can cause them to injure themselves.