A study of school children by the Somerset County Council has shown that one in four schoolgirls and one in five boys have self-harmed “as a way of coping with stressful situations”.
The number of school children admitted to Somerset’s hospitals for self-inflicted injuries has seen a visible increase from the early 2010s. The practice appears to be especially prevalent in 15-year-old girls.
The Somerset Council’s director of Public Health, Mrs Trudy Grant has been working with multiple organisations and schools to try to ensure that the stigma associated with self-harm is reduced and that young people have access to the mental health assistance that they need.
According to Mrs Grant: “We’ve known for some time that the levels of self-harm have been rising in the county. Talking openly about the issue will help people to access the right support when they need it.”
She made this speech at a meeting of the council’s cabinet on November 19, and went on to inform the cabinet that contrary to popular belief, self-harm is not necessarily “a cry for help”. instead, it can often be a very secretive behaviour, expressing deep feelings or emotional trauma, which people make an effort to hide or cover up as much as possible.
“We shouldn’t ask: ‘why did you do that to yourself?’, but ‘what led you to feel the need to hurt yourself?’.”
Somerset had the fourth highest rate of hospital admissions for the 10-24 age group, out of the UK’s 152 upper-tier local authorities.
Among those admitted to hospital for self-harm, the highest number are admitted for overdosing on or poisoning.