Campaign to Ban Websites After Dramatic Rise in Self Harm Cases

  • Report by Young Minds shows in-patient admittance has increased by 68% for people who self harm, and one in twelve young people are known to suffer.

    The charity say that this figure is likely to be much higher, but there is a lack of openness and communication on the topic resulting in teenagers visiting websites that glamorise suicide and self harm.

    Figures from the NHS show there has been a steady rise in the number of under-25s in England admitted to hospital after hurting themselves deliberately over the last 10 years with around 38,000 young people being treated in 2010, compared to 22,555 in 2001.

    The report is the first of its kind, and Young Minds have developed an incite into young people who self harm and calls for increased awareness as there is a lack of understanding and help available. This is especially so for at risk and vulnerable groups including looked-after children and young people in the criminal justice system.

    The report found that:

    • Parents associate a young person self-harming with failing as a parent and over a third said they would not seek help.
    • Teachers feel helpless on the issue and 80 per cent said they would like clear practical advice and materials to support young people.
    • Three out of five GPs said they are concerned about what language to use when talking to young people about self-harm.
    • Nearly four out of five young people say they don't know where to turn for advice about self-harm.

    Due to lack of openness of support available people are turning to websites for support; the range of information available online can vary from supportive to dismissive with some websites actually inciting self-harm.

    There have been recent campaigns to force websites to remove content that glamorises self harm and suicide, following the death of Tallulah Wilson, aged 15. She was hit by a train on 14th October after being bullied at school, and she had visited websites that supported self harm and anorexia.

    She had posted messages on Twitter and used her Twitter page to support Rosie Whitaker, who committed suicide aged 15 in similar circumstances in July this year after being bullied online.

    In a blog, Rosie, a talented ballet dancer, spoke of her struggles with bulimia, her compulsion to slash herself with a razor and plans to kill herself. Callous strangers responded by telling the underweight girl she was fat and urging her to commit suicide.

    Tallulah's tweet, to Rosie's old Twitter page, before her suicide read:

    why the f**k should I stay if no one around me stay for me? It’s not f**king fair. I’m done. I’m f**king done #suicide #goodbye.

    It was followed by another message reading:

    I don’t want to wake up anymore.

    The Yound Minds report concludes that healthcare professionals need training to provide increased awareness around self-harm and how to identify and support young people; GPs should be able to access CPD modules on self-harm focusing on why young people self-harm and GPs should also be provided with guidance on how assessment tools such as Nice guidelines can support their consultation and referral process.

    A spokeswoman for The Samaritans said:

    Samaritans agrees that certain types of suicide-related material online can be potentially dangerous when accessed by vulnerable individuals.

    It is important that organisations develop responsible practices around suicide-related content, including promoting sources of support and by removing content which actively encourages or glorifies self-harm or suicide.

    However, we also know that many people find emotional support by using online forums, blogs and social networking sites so the right balance needs to be struck to make sure that legitimate online dialogue is not prohibited.

    Emma- Jane Cross, CEO of BeatBullying said:

    We know from our research that young people are alarmed by the number of self harm and suicide sites they encounter in their cyber lives and these sites can be incredibly damaging and have devastating consequences.

    Much is being done, by various organisations and children themselves, but the government and the internet industry must take the issue of keeping children safe online more seriously.

    The Department of Health says it's working on new training resources aimed at helping those who work with young people to deal with mental health problems.



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