Alarming numbers of 11-21 years olds are being exposed to images online showing people self-harming.
A significant proportion are saying the images make them ‘feel like hurting themselves’, according to a poll commissioned by a consortium of leading UK youth charities.
The poll also reveals a worrying insight into the number of children and young people self-harming across the UK today. Over half of 11-14 year olds have self-harmed themselves or know someone who has self-harmed and eight out of every ten 18-21 year olds say they have self-harmed or know someone who has self-harmed.
ChildLine, YouthNet (the charity behind TheSite.org), selfharmUK and YoungMinds commissioned a poll of 2,000 children and young people between the ages of 11 and 21. The charities are releasing the findings ahead of Self-Harm Awareness Day (Sunday 1 March).
Mairead Monds, ChildLine services manager in Northern Ireland, said: “Although self-harm is not a new problem, sharing images of self-harm on social media sites is a worrying new development, especially among such a young age group of children.
There are many reasons why young people might self-harm. It’s a way of dealing with overwhelming feelings that can feel very difficult to cope with and young people tell us that physical pain helps them cope with the emotional pain.”
During 2013-2014, counsellors at the ChildLine bases in Northern Ireland received 2,622 contacts either on the telephone or online from children and young people across the UK about self-harm.
One young person who contacted a counsellor at the ChildLine base in Belfast said: “I’ve been suffering with depression for years but recently it’s got so much worse. I feel like I’m slipping back into a dark place and I don’t know how to escape it. It’s making me really anxious. I don’t know what to do.” (Boy, 16-18 Belfast Base)[caption id="attachment_55233" align="alignright" width="270"] Contact Helpline if you feel you are in danger with self-harming.[/caption]
Mairead added: “I would urge young people seeking advice or support on this issue to contact ChildLine, which is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week on 0800 1111 or go to:
To mark Self-Harm Awareness Day (Sunday 1 March), the charities are running a week-long online awareness campaign.
You can follow the Self-Harm Awareness Day activity on Twitter via #selfharm or #selfharmawarenessday and find out more about the campaign on each of the charities websites.
(All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child or young person. Snapshots are created from real ChildLine contacts but are not necessarily direct quotes from the young person. Although a young person was counselled by a particular base, they could have been contacting from anywhere in the UK.)
About the poll
2,000 11-21 year olds were surveyed by OnePoll between 21/1/15 and 27/1/15.
Among the findings:
* One in every four 11-14 year olds and seven out of ten of 18-21 year olds said they had seen images online showing someone self-harming
* Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, over half of all 11-14 year olds and one in every four 18-21 year olds said they had ‘felt like hurting themselves’ after seeing these images
* Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, nine out of every ten 11-14 year olds and eight out of every ten 18-21year olds said they had found the images upsetting.
* Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, six out of every ten 11-14 year olds and one in ten 18-21 year olds said they had shared images of someone self-harming on social media
* Over half of all 11-21 year olds said they wouldn’t know how to report an image of someone self-harming on social media
* Around a third of 11-18 year olds and 69% of 18-21 year olds said they would go online for support and information about self-harm.]]>