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The number of people self-harming in Ireland is continuing to rise

A conference will be held next month to raise awareness of how to tackle self-harm.

Image: David Cheskin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

PARENTS AND TEACHERS have been urged to educate themselves around the subject of self-harm, as figures show that the number of people harming themselves is rising every year.

Latest figures from the National Suicide Research Foundation for 2015 showed that self-harming was on the rise in Ireland.

The rate of self-harm incidents among women and girls in Ireland was 222 per 100,000 in 2015 – up 3% on the previous year.

The figures also show that the self-harm rate among men and boys was 186 per 100,000 in 2015 – a 1% increase on the previous year, and a 15% increase since 2007.

The peak rate for females was in the 15-19 years age group at 718 per 100,000, whereas the peak rate among males was in 20-24 year-olds at 553 per 100,000.

Self-harm is defined as:

Self-injury or self-poisoning irrespective of the apparent purpose of the act.

Acts of deliberate self-harm are more common in young people, with research showing it affects one in every five to ten adolescents.

They can also be a significant indicator of someone taking their own life. A 1999 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry looking at 174 suicides of people under the age of 25 found that 80% of people had self-harmed in the past year.

A separate 2014 study found that despite 40-60% of people who die by suicide having self-harmed in the past, the issue of how to care for people who do self-harm is not well understood.

“Alarming”

In light of these figures, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services and suicide prevention charity Pieta House have issued a warning to parents, school-teachers and caregivers to educate themselves on the dangers of self-harm.

“The increase in rates of self-harm among adolescents over the last number of years is worrying and yet we’re just not talking about it as a society,” said Paul Gilligan, CEO of St Patrick’s.

Dr Paul Surgenor, director of research with Pieta House, described the rate of self-harm in Ireland as “alarming”.

“The figures from the National Research Foundation are alarming but what is even more concerning  is the fact that these figures are only based on hospital presentations,” he said.

It has been estimated that only 10% of adolescents who had self-harmed had actually presented to hospital.

A self-harm awareness conference organised by both groups will be held next month on 1 March (Self-Injury Awareness Day).

Organisers say the conference will offer a mix of practical workshops and presentations relevant to teaching staff, community workers, parents and students.

“We hope that the conference on 1 March will give parents and carers the skills and confidence to initiate the conversation and support their young people in the move from self-harm to self-care,” said Surgenor.

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • National Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

More information can be found on St Patrick’s website  

Read: Darkness Into Light: 120,000 people take part in annual suicide prevention event

Read: Pieta House teams up with farming group to highlight suicide among men in rural areas

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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