Alarming numbers of 11-21 years olds are being exposed to images online showing people self-harming, with a significant proportion saying the images make them ‘feel like hurting themselves’, according to a poll commissioned by a consortium of leading UK youth charities.
The poll also reveals a worrying insight into the number of children and young people self-harming in the UK today. Over half of 11-14 year olds have self-harmed or know someone who has self-harmed and eight out of every ten 18-21 year olds say they have self-harmed or know someone who has self-harmed.
ChildLine, YouthNet (the charity behind TheSite.org), selfharmUK and YoungMinds commissioned a poll of 2,000 children and young people between the ages of 11 and 21. The charities are releasing the findings ahead of Self-Harm Awareness Day (Sunday 1st March).
Helen Beattie, ChildLine services manager said: “Although self-harm is not a new problem, sharing images of self-harm on social media sites is a worrying new development, especially among such a young age group of children.
“There are many reasons why young people might self-harm. It’s a way of dealing with overwhelming feelings that can feel very difficult to cope with and young people tell us that physical pain helps them cope with the emotional pain.”
During 2013-2014, counsellors at ChildLine received 24,308 contacts either on the telephone or online from children and young people across the UK about self-harm.
One young person who contacted a counsellor at the ChildLine base in London said: “I want to talk to someone about how I can stop cutting. When I cut myself it’s like everything stops. There's no fear, no troubles and no worries anymore. I feel guilty in case somebody sees. No-one knows what I am doing.”
Helen Beattie continued: “I would urge young people seeking advice or support on this issue to contact ChildLine, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0800 1111 or go to ChildLine.org.uk.”
To mark Self-Harm Awareness Day (Sunday March 1st), the charities are running a week-long online awareness campaign.
You can follow the Self-Harm Awareness Day activity on Twitter via #selfharm or #selfharmawarenessday and find out more about the campaign on each of the charities websites.