Recent research commissioned by the Department of Mental Health on more than 1000 young people aged 15 – 21 years-old reveals that at least 50% of them know somebody who self-harms. The term self-harm generally refers to a broad range of deliberate self-destructive acts.
Common examples include `overdosing' (self-poisoning), hitting, cutting or burning oneself, pulling hair or picking skin, or self-strangulation. Self–harm may also take less obvious forms such as taking unnecessary risks, staying in abusive relationships, developing an eating disorder, being addicted to alcohol or drugs, or even simply not looking after emotional and physical needs.
People who self-harm are likely to have gone through very difficult, painful experiences as children or young adults. The experiences might have involved physical violence, emotional abuse, or sexual abuse. They might have been neglected, separated from someone they loved, been bullied, harassed, assaulted, isolated, put under intolerable pressure, made homeless, sent into care, into hospital or to other institutions. Consequently self-injury becomes a coping strategy, a way of expressing their pain, punishing themselves, and keeping memories at bay.
Understanding Self-Harm, in Mind – Information and Advice, www.mind.org.uk/help/diagnoses_and_conditions/self-harm
Hurting Themselves, by Claire Laurent in 4Health Mind www.channel4.com/health/microsites/0-9/4health/mind/wwr_hurting.html
Mantal Health and Growing Up, Third Edition Deliberate Self Harm in Yoiung People, The Royal College of Psychiatrists, Mental Health Info http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/mentalhealthandgrowingup/26self-harminyoungpeople.aspx
Basement Project: PO Box 5, AbergavennyÐ²Ð‚ÐNP7 5XW, Tel: 01873 856524, Website: http://www.basementproject.co.uk/fs_selfharm.html
(A community resource providing support groups and helpful low-cost literature for individuals. Has a particular focus on abuse and self-harm).
ChildLine: 45 Folgate Street, London E1 6GL, Helpline: 0800 11 11 (24 hours), Textphone: 0800 400 222 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-9.30pm; Sat-Sun 9.30am-8pm), 'The Line': 0800 88 44 44 (Mon-Fri 3.30pm to 9.30pm; Sat-Sun 2pm-8pm. NB: this is a special helpline for young people living away from home), Website: www.childline.org.uk
UK's free, 24-hour helpline for children and young people. Trained volunteer counsellors provide comfort, advice and protection. Lines can be busy so please try again if you don't get through the first time. Young people can also write to the following freepost address: ChildLine, Freepost 1111, London N1 0BR.
National Self-Harm Network: PO Box 7264, Nottingham NG1 6WJ, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.nshn.co.uk
Campaigns for a better understanding of self-harm and provides a free information pack. Contact NSHN if you are worried because you self-harm or you are close to someone who does.
Young Minds: 102-108 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5SA, Tel: 020 7336 8445 (Just for info and publications), Parents Information Service: 0800 018 2138 (Mondays and Fridays 10am-1pm; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 1-4pm), Email: email@example.com Website: www.youngminds.org.uk
National charity committed to improving the mental health of all children and young people. Campaigns for better provision of child and adolescent mental health services. Provides information to anyone with concerns about the mental health or emotional well-being of a child or young person. Can give information on mental health issues, and details of local and national advice services. Leaflets for young people, and other helpful information are available on their award-winning mental health site.
Youth Access 1-2 Taylors Yard, 67 Alderbrook Road, London SW12 8AD, Tel: 020 8772 9900 (Mon-Fri 9am-1pm, 2-5pm), E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.youthaccess.org.uk
A national membership organisation for youth information, advice and counselling agencies. Provide details of, and referrals to, local youth agencies and counselling services for young people aged between 14 and 25, but do not offer direct advice.
Extensive UK resource offering information and support to people who self-harm and their carers. Features self-injury research and references, book lists, poems, artwork, stories, message boards, access to an online support group for helpers and a section for counsellors.
Understanding Self-Harm: www.mind.org.uk/Information/Booklets/Understanding/Understanding+self-harm.htm
Produced by Mind, this booklet is for anyone who self-harms, for their friends and family and the mental health workers who care for them. It should help give readers a greater understanding and knowledge of the condition and of what can be done to help.
Young People and Self-Harm: www.selfharm.org.uk
This website provides information on a wide range of activities and initiatives that relate to young people and self-harm. Includes details of useful contacts and publications.
Children and Adolescents Who Try to Harm, Hurt or Kill Themselves (Department of Health, 2000)
This booklet presents analysis of self-harm reports by parents about their children and by the children themselves. It shows the prevalence of reported self-harm by socio-demographic and psychiatric characteristics of young people as well as family social and economic functioning. Can be accessed free from www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=7373&More=N
Deliberate Self Harm in Adolescents: Self report survey in schools in England by K Hawton et al. in the BMJ vol. 325 (2002) pages 1207-1211.
Can be read or downloaded as a PDF from http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/
The Hurt Yourself Less Workbook (National Self-Harm Network, 1998)
One of the National Self-Harm Network's recommended books, this is a workbook written by people who self-injure for people who self-injure. It has many exercises to explore self-harm and how your life may be affected by it. It aims to help you understand it better and to be kinder to yourself.Ð²Ð‚ÐAvailable to order from www.nshn.co.uk/resources.html#books (£10 for NSHN members, £12.50 for those who identify themselves as people who self-harm, and £25 for professionals and organisations).
Teenage Suicide and Self-Harm (60-minute audio tape & 40-page booklet) by John Coleman, Juliet Lyon and Roz Piper (TSA, 2002)
Aimed at parents and carers, this pack covers issues concerning suicide and self-harm such as recognising the risk, a suicide in the family, and helping distressed young people. It features a list of helpful organisations at the back of the booklet. Available from the Trust for the Study of Adolescence www.tsa.uk.com