Self-harming has risen dramatically among UK teenage girls
In every 10,000 teenage girls in the UK, more than 37 have self-harmed. The large rise in rates of self-harming may be due to stress or mental health problems
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In every 10,000 teenage girls in the UK, more than 37 have self-harmed. That’s according to an analysis of data from 647 general practices across the country.
The study found that, between 2011 and 2014, there was a 68 per cent increase in reports of self-harm among girls aged 13 to 16.
The rate of self-harm in 2014 was 37.4 out of every 10,000 girls, aged 10 to 19. But among 13-to-16-year-olds, this rose to 77 girls in every 10,000.
In boys aged 10 to 19, the self-harm rate in 2014 was 12.3 per 10,000 boys.
“We can’t really explain this possible rapid increase in self-harm among girls. It could reflect better awareness or recording of self-harm in primary care,” says Nav Kapur, at the University of Manchester, UK. “But it could also be a result of increasing stress and higher levels of psychological problems in young people.”
There is some evidence that mental health disorders are becoming more common in this age group, says Kapur.
His team’s analysis found that, in more than half of cases, there was no documented referral of a self-harming teenager to mental health services. Children in the poorest areas were 23 per cent less likely to be referred within a year of their self-harming episode than children living in the richest areas.
The study also found that those who had self-harmed were 17 times more likely to die by suicide.
“These results emphasise the opportunity for earlier intervention in primary care to reduce suicide risk,” says Kapur.
Journal reference: British Medical Journal
Read more: Suicidal behaviour predicted by blood test showing gene changes
Need a listening ear? US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 800 273 8255; UK Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
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