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Hospital admissions for self-harm among girls has doubled in two decades

Steep rise in hospital admissions for self-harm among girls is in sharp contrast to static figure for boys

Steep rise in hospital admissions for self-harm among girls is in sharp contrast to static figure for boys


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Girls under the age of 18 were admitted to hospital for self-harming almost twice as often last year as two decades ago.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) described the NHS statistic as ‘heartbreaking’, while a leading psychiatrist said social media use could be to blame.

NHS figures, revealed by a health minister in answer to a parliamentary question, show there were 7,327 admissions of girls who had self-harmed in 1997, compared to 13,463 in 2017.

A corresponding rise was not seen in boys, with 2,236 admissions in 1997 and 2,332 last year.

Figures are ‘sadly unsurprising’

An NSPCC spokesperson said: ‘These heartbreaking figures are sadly unsurprising. We know from contacts to Childline that many children are being driven to self-harm as a way of dealing with the pressures and demands of modern-day life.

‘Young people are crying out for help and more needs to be done to prevent them from reaching crisis point.

‘A key step in this process is ensuring every child and young person feels confident they will be supported when they do speak up so they don't end up trapped in a cycle where they believe hurting themselves is the only solution.’

The NSPCC said it provided 15,376 counselling sessions about self-harm last year – the equivalent to 42 per day.

Range of factors

Royal College of Psychiatrists child and adolescent faculty vice-chair Jon Goldin, was reported by The Times as saying a range of factors, including exams and social media, are putting pressure on young people.

‘If you look at social media, girls are probably more sensitive to some of those factors than boys,’ he said.

A Department of Health spokesperson said an extra £300 million will be invested to provide extra help in schools, including training staff to support children more quickly.

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