Sal McKeown looks at the reasons behind self-harming, and how apps can help
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 10% of young people self-harm. That is three in every secondary classroom. It is especially high in the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer or intersex) community. Hospitals in the UK report 200,000 cases of self-harming each year.
The urge can start at any age, but most people who self-harm are aged between 11 and 25. They are more likely to start if they know someone else who’s done it, such as a friend or a family member.
Those who self-harm are more likely to end their own life than others. However, many don’t want to end their lives. In fact, some experts believe self-harming may help them cope with emotional distress, so they don’t feel the need to kill themselves.
Self-harming is more often than not a private act and so allegations that it is attention-seeking are wide of the mark. Often people are only discovered to be self-harming after repeated episodes when they have built up a tolerance and need to hurt themselves more to get the same release.
Common reasons for self-harming
- Abuse: emotional, physical or sexual abuse including bullying
- Bereavement: death of a family member friend, or pet
- Emotional and mental health difficulties: worry, panic attacks, depression, anxiety, loneliness
- Relationships: problems with family, friends, teachers
- School worries and exam stress: pressure from parents and teachers, fear of failure
- Substance abuse: alcohol, drugs or both
- Gender identity or sexual orientation: uncertainty, keeping it secret, facing hostility. According to Queer Futures, published in 2016, just under half of young LGBTQI people have self-harmed.
- To replace emotional pain with physical pain
Find out what apps are available from the Good Schools Guide: Click Me