‘Professionals don’t know when to take self harm seriously’ - says Norwich woman as incidences more than triple in women

Abbie Foster, who has recovered from self harming.Picture: Nick Butcher

Abbie Foster, who has recovered from self harming.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

There is a huge stigma against those who self harm and professionals do not when to take it seriously.

That was the message from a Norwich woman who broke the destructive cycle, as it was revealed nearly one in five girls and young women had self harmed at some point in their lives.

The figures, which are from 2014 but are the most recent available, were uncovered in a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

It was found 6.4pc of people aged between 16 and 74 had intentionally harmed themselves at some point in their life, up from 2.4pc in 2000.

But the starkest rise was in girls and women aged 16 to 24, where 19.7pc report self harm, up from 11.7pc in 2007 and 6.5pc in 2000.

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Emma Thomas, chief executive of charity YoungMinds, described the figures as "alarming".

But Abbie Foster, from Norwich, said the statistics did not surprise her.

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Miss Foster, 23, who self-harmed for a number of years from her early teens, said: "Sadly I'm not shocked or surprised by the rise, but I am hoping the new figures will show people that this is a serious issue.

"I think people are being more open about self harm, so I feel that contributed to the figures but also there are so many pressures for young girls to be perfect and like models online and in person, it causes too much stress."

She added: "there is still such a stigma against self harm and a lot of people and professionals don't seem to know when to take it seriously.

"I think there needs to be more education on self harm and parents of self harmers, which in turn can give young people the support and guidance they need."

The study provides the first evidence of long-term trends in non-suicidal self-harm in England, the researchers said. Lead author Sally McManus, from the National Centre for Social Research, said: "Non-suicidal self-harm is increasingly being reported as a way of coping. We need to help people, especially young people, learn more appropriate and effective ways of dealing with emotional stress."

Despite rising rates of self-harm, the researchers said they did not find evidence of an increase in people seeking treatment.

- Need to talk? Call Samaritans on 116 123.

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