Self-harm or intentional self-injury of self-poisoning is a major public health issue among adolescents worldwide. Experts and scientist have acknowledged self-harm as one of the biggest risk factor for suicide. Across the world, suicide is the second most common cause of death in people under 25 years old.
The researchers examined self-harm recorded in general practices rather than in the hospitals. And to estimate the rates of self-harm, they analysed data from 16,912 adolescents aged between 20 and 19 years old who've harmed themselves between 2011 and 2014. The results show that self-harm for girls was 37.4 per 10,000, whereas self-harm for boys was 12.3 per 10,000. Among 13 to 16 year-old girls, their self-harm rate rose from 45.9 per 10,000 in 2011 to 77 per 10,000, a whopping 68 per cent increase.
"We can't really explain this possible rapid increase in self-harm among girls. It could reflect better awareness or recording of self-harm in primary care," says Nav Kapur, a professor of psychiatry and population health from the University of Manchester and author of the study. "But it could also be a result of increasing stress and higher levels of psychological problems in young people."
The researchers also found that adolescents living in the poorest areas were 23 per cent less likely to be registered or referred to mental health services within 12 months of self-harming than children living in the richest areas, even though the rates of self-harm were higher in poorer areas.
These adolescents who self-harmed were nine times more likely to die unnaturally than unaffected adolescents, and were 17 times more likely to die via suicide. "It's very important that young people, parents and carers aren't unduly alarmed by these findings," Kapur said. "We know that for many young people things get better and they no longer hurt themselves as adults. But of course we must take self-harm seriously; it's important to understand its underlying causes."
People can't stress this enough. If you're feeling alone, there will always be someone willing to listen. The deaf will hear you with their eyes, the blind will see you with their hands. You are heard.
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