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9 December 2016, 08:09 | Updated: 9 December 2016, 10:20
There has been a 26% rise in the number of children and young people hospitalised after self-harming in the East of England
New NSPCC research reveals that nearly 19,000 children and young people in England and Wales were admitted to hospital for self-harm last year – an increase of almost 2,400 (14%) in the past three years.
Last year 2,484 children and young people were hospitalised across the East of England for self-harm, with professionals seeing over 500 more cases than three years ago.
The disturbing rise in the region is the third biggest increase in children and young people hospitalised for self-harm across England and Wales.
The worrying figures, obtained by the NSPCC after a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) to NHS Trusts and Health Boards, highlight how a growing number of hospital beds are being filled by children who have taken violent and drastic steps to alleviate their emotional pain and suffering.
They also reinforce the importance of the charity’s ‘Call for Help’ Christmas campaign, which is raising vital funds for services like Childline so every young person who gets in contact via the phone or online receives the support and advice they may desperately need.
Currently the free and confidential helpline for young people can only deal with three in every four of those that reach out for help. The ‘Call for Help’ campaign invites people to text GIFT to donate £4 on 60155.
Teenagers aged 13 to 17 are most likely to end up hospitalised for acts of self-harm that include cutting their bodies, overdosing on pills or burning themselves; highlighting the crisis many young people are facing as they struggle to cope with the pressures of modern day life.
The new figures are backed up by Childline which delivered 18,471 counselling sessions about self-harm last year – equivalent to 50 a day – making it one of the most common reasons for children and young people to reach out to the NSPCC service.
One 14-year-old boy who contacted Childline said:
“Sometimes I get flashbacks from what happened when I was younger and I cope with the horrible memories by cutting myself - it helps me release the pain from within. School helped take my mind off things but now that the holidays are here I’m struggling. My parents always seem to be too busy for me and I don’t want to tell my friends what happened. I feel so miserable and lonely – can you please help?”
And a 14-year-old girl told counsellors:
“Recently I've lost some people that were really close to me. When I started to self-harm it seemed to mask the emotional pain I was feeling, even if it only helped for a little while. When I get the urge to cut, I can't seem to stop it until it's done; otherwise I get really upset and angry. A couple of times I've gone too far and ended up in hospital.”
Self-harm can take lots of physical forms, including cutting, burning, bruising, scratching, poisoning and overdosing.
The NSPCC has published advice for those that suspect a child or young person is or considering self-harming:
Colin Peak, Regional Head of Service for the East of England said: “A frightening number of children and teenagers are being driven to self-harm as a way of dealing with unresolved feelings, tensions and distress in their lives.
“Knowing hospital beds are full of young people crying out for help should be a real wake up call to all those that care for the wellbeing of the younger generation. It is vital we confront the fact that an increasing number are struggling to deal with the pressures and demands of modern-day life, to such an extent they are inflicting terrible damage upon themselves.
“A key step in this process is ensuring every child and teenager who contacts Childline receives the advice and support they may desperately need, which is why it is so important that people get behind our ‘Call for Help’ campaign.”
Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk