In the United Kingdom, the number of children admitted to hospital for self-harm has risen by 30 percent in a year – with cyber-bullying to blame, according to experts.
According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, more than 12,600 people aged 17 or under were hospitalized in 2013 after intentionally harming themselves. The figures included cases of a seven-year-old boy from Derbyshire treated for ‘intentional poisoning,’ and a ten-year-old boy from Stockport who tried to hang himself.
In the year 2012, the number of cases were approximately 9,800, showing a sharp increase of almost 3,000 cases this previous year.
The number of young children treated for self-harm also increased, almost doubling over the past five years, with the largest increase among 12-year-old girls. Among those aged 11 and under, boys were more likely to hurt themselves, but in the older age group, 24,545 girls were hospitalized, compared to 6,802 boys.
Rachel Welch, director of selfharm.co.uk, a support charity for “young people impacted by self-harm,” claimed that the figures may be understated. ‘Whereas a girl might cut herself, a boy might punch a wall. Often [the latter] is not recognized as self-harm,” said Welch.
In addition, as more than a quarter of the National Health Services(NHS) hospitals in England refused to respond to the request made under the Freedom of Information Act, experts fear that the true number of cases is even far higher.
Welch also claimed that while cyberbullying was “definitely one reason” for the increase, the current state of the economy might also attribute to the cause.
“It’s not an easy world for young people. They are being pushed to do well at school but at the same time they are being given the news that because of the economy there will probably be no jobs for them when they leave. Kids don’t see a future that is filled with opportunities,” she said.