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.
- Pieta House has seen a 23% increase in the number of clients presenting with self-harm since 2017.
- The highest rates of self-harm in both males and females in the first six months of 2018 were among adolescents and young adults (National Suicide Research Foundation [NSRF])
- There were 6,124 self-harm presentations to hospitals in the first half of 2018, representing a 4% increase from 2017
- There was a 21% increase in self-harm in 10-24 year olds between 2007 and 2017
- There are twice as many incidences of self-harm in the LGBTI+ community compared to their non-LGBTI+ peers (BeLonGTo).
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:
- self-harm and suicide in young people
- opportunities for intervention
- practical guidance for parents and teachers on dealing with presentations of self-harm
- innovation and understanding and responding to self-harm.
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