By DAVID DERBYSHIRE - More by this author »
Last updated at 02:09am on 10th March 2008
The number of schoolgirls self-harming has risen by a quarter in four years, official figures have revealed.
Some 250 children who cut themselves or overdose on drugs are now hospitalised every week.
Eight out of ten of these are girls, according to statistics from Accident and Emergency departments.
Charities said that "toxic childhood syndrome" - where youngsters feel under intolerable pressure at home, at school and from their peers - could be partly to blame.
Images of celebrities such as Amy Winehouse, who has scars and scratches on her forearm, could be adding to the crisis, they warned.
According to the latest figures, more than 13,000 children were treated in hospital for self-harming in England and Wales last year - a rise of 29 per cent on the previous four years.
This included youngsters who overdosed on sleeping pills and drugs, as well as those who cut themselves. It is impossible to know how many of these incidents were genuine suicide attempts, and how many were desperate cries for help.
The rise in cases means that a self-harming child comes through the doors of an A&E unit every 40 minutes. Around 300 of those treated were under the age of 11.
A spokesman for the Samaritans described the number of youngsters harming themselves as "a worrying problem".
He said: "There needs to be a lot more education about self-harm and people should be aware that there is often not just a single reason - there are many things that can contribute.
"Having photos of Amy Winehouse looking like she has been self-harming isn't particularly helpful because they are not offering positive examples for young people."
Studies have suggested that a tenth of children aged 15 and 16 have deliberately harmed themselves.
Mental health charities said that self-harmers typically have low self esteem, suffer from depression and hurt themselves to relieve pressure in their lives.
Peer group influence can also make youngsters more vulnerable to self-harm.
The latest statistics showed that the number of girls aged 12 to 17 admitted for self-harming has risen from 8,311 to 10,596 in the last four years - an increase of 27 per cent.
For boys in the same age group the figure has risen 31 per cent, from 1,892 to 2,484.
The most common method of self-harming was a drug overdose.
More than 8,000 children - including almost 100 under the age of 12 - used over-the- counter painkillers and another 1,500 overdosed on sleeping pills, sedatives or anti-depressants.
Around 800 children were treated in hospital after cutting themselves. Of those, 14 were suffering from mental disorders caused by alcohol abuse.
ChildLine counsellor Angie Brown said: "Young people who call Child-Line to talk about self-harm often tell us that they do not want to kill themselves, but are trying to cope with other problems.
"They may be having issues at home, being bullied, suffering from exam pressure or feeling isolated and alone with no one to talk to.
"Self-harm can be a means for them to communicate this distress and show that something is wrong."
• The number for the Samaritans Helpline is 08457 90 90 90 and Child-Line can be reached on 0800 1111.
作者:admin@医学,生命科学 2011-01-15 17:14