27 February, 2019

Recent statistics highlight need for more education on self-harm

Recent self-harm figures highlight that children as young as ten are presenting with self-harm.

To mark Self-Injury Awareness Day 2019, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) and Pieta House called attention to these recent figures, which also raise that incidences among LGBTI+ young people are twice as high compared to their non-LGBTI+ peers.

In light of these figures, SPMHS and Pieta House are highlighting the need for more education around self-harm and are encouraging healthcare practitioners and the public, particularly parents and those working with young people, to increase their understanding around self-harm so they can be better equipped to respond effectively.

Our Director of Services here in SPMHS, Tom Maher, said:

“The increase in the incidence of self-harm presentations since 2010 highlights the fundamental need for further education, awareness and understanding around self-harm."

"In reality, the incidences of self-harm are even higher than the recorded figures, as many people will not present to hospitals at all, often as a result of the stigma and negative attitudes towards mental health difficulties that are still engrained within Irish society.”

Lena Lenehan, Senior Clinical Director, Pieta House added:

“Pieta House has seen a 23% increase in the number of clients presenting with self-harm since 2017. This is a significant increase and we want to highlight the importance of awareness on self-harm and positive mental health and tackling the stigma surrounding mental health issues.”

As evidenced in the statistics, one cohort in particular with higher cases of self-harm than others is in the LGBTI+ community, where incidences of self-harm are twice as high.

Speaking about the increased risk of self-harm in this group, BeLonG To's Executive Director, Monnine Griffith, said, "growing up LGBTI+ can be challenging, particularly when someone is hiding their sexual orientation or gender identity. Discovering and beginning to accept that part of your identity is often associated with a sense of isolation, fear of rejection and confusion."

"Feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness are everyday realities for many LGBTI+ young people, resulting in two times the level of self-harm compared to their non-LGBTI+ friends. The presence of a supportive adult can be a lifeline for LGBTI+ young people. Together we can create a safer, more supportive Ireland where all of our young people belong.”

This year’s conference explored topics such as:

Ellen Townsend, Professor of Psychology at the University of Nottingham and Lead of the Self-Harm Research Group, delivered the keynote speech at the conference. She explained:

“Self-harm in young people is complex; it evolves and changes over time. We hope to be able to capture the complexity and evolution of self-harm to permit an informed an agile therapeutic response.”

Other presenters and speakers at the conference included:

  • David Keegan, CEO and Co-Founder of First Fortnight
  • Professor Ella Arensman, Chief Scientist at the NSRF
  • Dr Eve Griffin, Research Fellow in the NSRF
  • Dr Richard Booth, Director of Psychology here in SPMHS
  • Siobhán Leijen and Sinéad Raftery, Pieta House

Tags:   self-harm   SHAC   Self-harm awareness day