PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide welcomes research, led by Professor Ann John of Swansea University, published today in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Findings show rates of self-harm were highest among 15-19 year olds but from 2011 the largest increases were seen among 10 -14 year olds, especially in girls.

PAPYRUS reports that these findings are consistent with what they are experiencing on their national helpline HOPELINEUK. Kelly Thorpe, Head of the charity’s helpline services, said: “At HOPELINEUK we often hear from young people who have used self-harm as a way to cope. Mostly these are young women in the 15-19 age group. However, analysis of data around calls from ‘concerned others’ – including parents, teachers, youth workers, and anyone concerned with the wellbeing of a young person – has shown an increase in the number of calls concerning young people aged 12-16 years who are self-harming.”

Said Kate Heneghan, Head of PAPYRUS in Wales: “This important study highlights some very worrying trends. Not only are we seeing an increase in self-harm in a younger cohort but inconsistencies in treatment and support between the sexes is simply unforgiveable and requires immediate action from the Welsh Government.

“We know that self-harm may be an indicator of suicidal thoughts but we also know that not everyone who self-harms is suicidal. This is why it is important that those who come into contact with young people who have self-harmed, such as A&E staff, are trained in suicide first aid and have the knowledge and skills to establish optimal provision of care. All too often we hear from parents who sadly lose their son or daughter to suicide following discharge from A&E.

“Suicide remains the lead killer of our young people between 10 and 35 years of age across the UK. More than 200 school-age children are lost to suicide every year in the UK, which is four a week. Tragically in Wales on average we lose one child aged 15-19 years every month, to suicide. This has a devastating impact on family, friends, schools and the wider community. We call for more funding to support suicide prevention training across Welsh communities to help us challenge the stigma that continues to surround suicide and to equip people with the skills to spot the signs displayed by young people in distress and to help us create suicide safer communities.”

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