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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Cumbrian youngsters hospitalised each week with self-harm injuries

Every week across Cumbria a young person is admitted to hospital for self-harming – with the youngest in the county aged under five.

The startling figure was revealed as a report by children’s charity ChildLine warned of growing numbers of young people seeking help.

Figures obtained by the News & Star showed 1,592 people – many aged between 10 and 19 – were treated in casualty departments in Cumbria last year for self-harm injuries. They work out at an average of 133 hospital admissions every month, with 471 in Carlisle, 380 in Allerdale, 300 in Copeland and 97 in Eden.

Of those who needed hospital, five were girls aged under five, and 267 were aged between 10 and 19.

ChildLine said the number of young people seeking help had soared by more than two thirds in the past year and the charity’s counsellors handled a 39 per cent rise in calls about suicide.

Christine Mellor, ChildLine area manager for the north west, said self-harm and suicide was a growing worry for them.

“It seems the pressures facing children and young people – particularly girls – are increasing at such a rate that some of them see these drastic measures as the only answer to their problems,” she said.

“We know boys are also suffering, but they are less likely to seek help and we urge them to do so. The reasons for self-harming can be very personal. They can be linked to problems at home, at school or because children are, or have been abused. Often young people don’t know why they do it and talking through their problems can help them identify what is upsetting them.”

She urged anyone suffering in silence to contact them as “no matter how bad things seem, it can help to talk to someone who may be able to provide a crucial lifeline”.

Figures show that last year (2011/2012) ChildLine volunteers in the north west counselled 2,858 children who were self-harming – up from 1,364 children the previous year. Contacts about suicide rose from 1,418 in 2010/11 to 2,697 in 2011/12.

ChildLine’s annual report, Saying the Unsayable, reveals that self-harm is now the fourth most common reason for children to make contact with the charity. The age of callers is falling steadily.

Last year, the charity referred just under 1,000 cases – mostly girls – to the emergency services, almost double the figure for 2010/2011.

One girl, aged 14, said: “Me and my mum don’t get on at all. Mum drinks loads and she doesn’t have time for me anymore.

“I have a razor too and I think about 24 tablets in the house. Mum has just yelled at me, I hate it. I know she can’t control her anger, but now I just want to die.”

A nine-year-old said: “I feel like hurting myself because I feel scared. My dad scares me. He comes into my room every night when mum is at work. What he does to me hurts. I haven’t told anyone because my dad says all dads do it. I am scared and I want it to stop.”

Meanwhile, the figures were released as it was confirmed that the only specialist Carlisle charity for people battling the problem has suddenly closed.

Self Injury Support North Cumbria – formerly at Lowthians Lane, English Street, closed several weeks ago for undisclosed reasons.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said concerns were raised with it about Self Injury Support in North Cumbria Limited in April of this year.

“The concerns, which were raised by a trustee of the charity, revolved around the charity’s financial difficulties,” she said. She said they advised the trustees to ensure its dissolution.

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