The number of young people admitted to hospital after cutting themselves deliberately is up by more than 50% in five years, according to new figures.And proving that even people taking the government shilling don’t fully trust government stats…
"We are sure this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Professor Keith Hawton at Oxford University. "So, what’s the cause, then? You being a man of science and stuff?
"Pressures have increased and there's much more expected of young people."Eh..?
Didn’t we just have the great Tesco debacle only the other day, pointing out that youths weren’t exactly stretched and felt the world owed them a living?
Is that what you mean by ‘more expected of them’? That they work?!
"Another factor could be publicity," said Prof Hawton. "It's being discussed more in the media and by that I include the internet."Aha! Here’s the modern bogeyman. That pesky Internet, without which no-one would be cutting themselves, I guess…
One in five school children with a history of self-harm questioned by researchers at Oxford and Stirling Universities said they first learnt about it after seeing or reading something online, second only to hearing about it from friends.So once we’ve banned the Internet, we need to ban friends too…
The Royal College of Psychiatrists says it is now "seriously concerned" about the growing number of websites which glamorise the problem or show gory images of cuts and scars.Young people probably tell you they take more drugs than they do, and have sex far more often than they probably do…
"The kinds of things we are worried about are the graphic videos of self-harm [injuries] that are posted to sites like YouTube," said Dr Margaret Murphy, chair of the College's child and adolescent section.
"Young people tell us that images can trigger memories and that makes them much more likely to self-harm."
What else are they likely to say? ‘Well, Shaznee did it, and I didn’t want to be left out..’?
Better to blame it on something other than themselves…
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is now calling for websites owners and moderators to remove material which might promote or trigger self-harm and to link directly to sites which offer professional support.Of course they are.
What do the ‘victims’ themselves say? Has the Beeb got one to hand?
"I think the internet played a major role; I think it started off my self-harm," said Danielle, 17, from Belfast. "I was already thinking about it so went to the web to find out more."Out of the mouths of babes, eh?
"I just typed 'self-harm' and there were hundreds of videos. Some are good but others can be very damaging. If I see a picture [of cuts], it can encourage me to do it.And I can’t see the Internet is to blame for that…
Sometimes it's a competitive thing."
Elsewhere on the internet, dozens of forums let young people who self-harm chat about their experiences and feelings online.So what? Isn’t it the price of freedom, that people encounter things they might not like? Or does the ‘For the children!’ argument trump all now?
Many are well run with a high level of moderation and support.
But doctors say there is a danger that some can promote a dependency or encourage competition to cut in a similar way to pro-anorexia sites.
Mental health charities and psychiatrists now want to see better training for teachers and staff in A&E departments to deal with self-harm.‘Without freaking out…’
"People are aware of this problem and starting to do something about it," said Professor Hawton at Oxford University.
"Teachers need to know about it and be well informed. When they discover it, as all will, they need to know they can handle it without freaking out."
Well, someone’s been spending too much time on the youth forums!