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NHS Dorset Highlights Self-Harm on International Youth Day


2:19pm 12th August 2014
(Updated 2:21pm 12th August 2014)

NHS Dorset CCG is marking today's International Youth Day by highlighting the issue of self-harming among young people.

The number of recorded cases of self-harm in the county between April 1st 2012 and March 31st 2013 was 177. These results were only recorded at the three main hospitals in the area, and do not include minor injuries units. The cases recorded also only include those which were reported, when a young person is admitted into hospital. Taking these into account, it's predicted the potential figure could be 8 times higher.

Self-harm is not just confined to cutting through skin; it could be any way in which someone causes deliberate harm to their body.

With instances of self-harming increasing, the internet is being suggested as one of the reasons for this. Dedicated sites provide a platform for young people can share their experiences of self-harming; some even openly promote it.

The NHS in Dorset are looking to reduce the number of cases of self-injury by educating parents and carers on how to spot the signs of a problem and the right way to approach it with their child. One new initiative brought in is FLASH (Families Learning About Self-Harm). This is training which gives families the opportunity to understand why someone would self-harm and what help they can get.

Dave Pagett works within Dorset Healthcare's Children and Young People services, and has been looking at the problem of self-injury among under 18s. He says parents and carers need to understand the reasons behind why the child needs to output their emotions in this way:

"A lot of the self-harming behaviour is not about attempting to take their own lives. If you see your son or your daughter causing quite serious injuries to themselves, the emotional response from parents is usually one of anger, trying to take control and trying to force the young person to find other ways of dealing with their problem. That, quite often, just increases the problem. What parents need to do is stand back and listen more."

"Behavioural self-harm is usually conducted at times of anger, fear, distress or emotional worry and it can be impacted by mood, depression and low self-esteem. What happens is that self-harm becomes a mechanism for the young person to try and manage those negative feelings they can't deal with in a rational or logical way."

For help if you self-harm.

Visit you GP, who will in most cases be able to talk to you in confidence. You can also find out more information on www.wheresyourheadat.co.uk.

For help if you're a parent or carer.

There are a number of websites parents and carers can visit for more information on self-harming, and how to deal with conversations with a child who may be injuring themselves.

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