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Warning: this post mentions self-harm and you may find it triggering.
Did you know that Sunday, 1st March 2015 was Self-harm Awareness Day? I am sure that most of you didn’t. Self-harm still feels like a very taboo subject to talk about.
I’ve always been open in this blog. I have written posts about my history of long-term depression, miscarriages and even my suicide attempts. But somehow talking about my personal experiences of self-harm seems more difficult. Even now, as I write this I wonder what you are all thinking.
I used to self-harm. It started in my early 20s and then continued on a weekly and sometimes bi-weekly basis until I was 24. It is not something I am proud of. And now I am older I struggle to understand why I had such a compulsion to cause myself pain.
There are many reasons why I self-harmed and there are many reasons young people self-harm. I was fortunate enough to receive help from people who understood how I felt. They didn’t judge and they helped me see that I had other options. Gradually I lost the desire to hurt myself when I was upset.
Self-harm Awareness Day
Self-harm amongst young people is becoming more and more common. In 2012/2013, the helpline ChildLine saw a 41 per cent increase in calls about self-harm.
According to a UK poll commissioned by a consortium of leading UK youth charities alarming numbers of 11-21 year olds are getting access to images online showing someone self-harming. With many of these children and young people saying that the images make them ‘feel like hurting themselves’ too.
These statistics scare me.
I know I do not have control over Little Miss H’s life. I can not control what happens to her or how she feels. But I would like to think that I can protect her from seeing images of people self-harming. I know that I can keep her safe from these images by following some simple advice. I can add parental controls to our computers. And I can simply sit down with my daughter and talk to her about the online world and how there is information out there that I don’t want her to have access to.
If you would like to know more about how to keep your child safe online then the NSPCC website has some fantastic advice and guidelines. The site also has some very helpful information on how to spot the signs of a child self-harming and what you can do to help.
If you are worried that a child you know is self-harming and you are concerned about their safety then you can contact the NSPCC’s 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are under 18 and would like advice or support on the issue of self-harm then please contact ChildLine on 0800 1111. ChildLine is a free 24 hour helpline manned by trained volunteer counsellors who will be able to help.
PS The UK youth charities ChildLine, Youthnet, SelfharmUK and YoungMinds are running a week-long online awareness campaign to mark Self-Harm Awareness day. This campaign aims to increase awareness of this issue and show that there is support available for children and young people who are self-harming.
Disclaimer: This post is written in support of Self-harm Awareness Day but all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.