In a recent publication by Robert Young, (Royal College of Psychiatrists) Young states: ‘Self-harm among young people in the UK is possibly increasing but little is known about the reasons young people give for cessation and their link with gender or employment status’.
For many people self harm and self injure may be seen as a form of relief. However, what many people fail to question and have little self harm awareness about is why they indulge in such activities in the first instance. Young people undertake self harm activities in all different methods, including; cutting, biting, hair pulling, scratching and intoxicating themselves with cocktails of drugs. Hurting themselves may seem like an only option to release stress from feelings such as; sadness, self-loathing, emptiness, guilt, and rage. It is apparent that gender, social status and generally the current economic crisis are all contribution factors of the increase in young people who self harm. For example; the pressure in society to get a good education, followed by a good job is proving to be difficult as the unemployment graduate market is on the rise. Many young people may feel pressurized and stressed and as a result may turn to self harm.
Young’s research suggests that the main motive behind most young people’s self-harm activities was to relieve negative emotions. From the population based studies; there is an indication that the majority of young people who self harm may have limited coping strategies in dealing with emotional difficulties.
Keith Waters who is a member of the National Institute for health research NHS Derby, and who was one of our key leading speakers at our Self Harm National Conference December 2012, highlighted problems which occurred on a current data base for young people who were assessed in all episodes of self harm and attended one in six hospitals within the UK. These problems were identified as relationships, employment, study, financial, housing, legal,substance misuse and physical and mental health.
Gender is also a topic for discussion as research also suggests the percentage of young women who self harm has a higher prevalence than young males and that it is an important predictor of self harm. People often self harm because they feel alone. Others finding ways to help and support young individuals can be life changing for them. Just to know that someone is available offering relevant support and help for self harm and to listen to their problems can be very comforting.
Additionally, Young’s findings suggests that there is also an indication that the current labour market position was a stronger influence than parental social class or gender for self harm, and was linked to a level of severity, motivation for starting and stopping self harm and self injury, and for service utilisation. That said, it is vital that young people have relevant and real self harm help support available to them to prevent or decrease cases of self harm.