Every year 6,000 people kill themselves in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Now a pilot project, inspired by a pioneering programme in Detroit, in encouraging people to talk openly to those who may be at risk.
On a freezing afternoon in February 2013, 21-year-old Becky decided to take her own life. She had depression and had been experiencing flashbacks to the abuse she suffered as a child. “I’d been managing, but things came to a head when I broke up with my partner, who had also been abusive,” she says. “I started to feel that I was a burden to my friends and it would be better for everybody if I wasn’t around.”
Thankfully, at the last minute, she changed her mind: “I started to feel scared, and I thought that if I felt fear, I shouldn’t be doing this. I realised that I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to stop hurting.” She called 999 and was helped.
Harmless has been undergoing a lot of exciting change over the last few months, preparing for the future of our self harm and suicide prevention services.
We have been giving a lot of thought as to how we can drive services forwards, raising more money in order to help more people and ensuring that our work is as valued and far reaching as it should be.
As such, we have been working on a number of new projects and ideas and have recruited new staff team members.
Joining us, we now have our new self harm and suicide prevention project worker, Colin, bringing with him a long history of working to support vulnerable people, Colin’s contribution to the changing face of Harmless is an exciting one, ensuring we can offer help in a creative and earlier manner.
Additionally, we are joined by our new Training Team Members, Sophie, Sarah and Judith who will be helping us to drive our training services forwards across the UK. Already in great demand, our range of training courses will broaden over the next six months as we attempt to raise more money in order to help more people.
Sarah, Sophie and Judith bring with them a broad range of teaching, training and personal experiences that are really welcomed in the team.
Welcome to all our new starters, and here’s to an exciting future for Harmless!
The number of schoolgirls at risk of emotional problems has risen sharply, an English study in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests.
Scientists analysed questionnaires completed by 1,600 pupils aged 11-13 in 2009, comparing them with similar surveys conducted five years later.
They were “surprised” by a 7% spike in girls reporting emotional issues while boys’ answers remained fairly stable.
Charities are concerned pressures are particularly affecting girls.
Scientists found that social, peer and behavioural problems remained relatively constant for boys and girls across the five years.
But the rise in emotional issues reported by girls suggested they faced unique pressures, the researchers suggested.
They said reasons behind this could include a drive to achieve unrealistic body images perpetuated by social media and an increasing sexualisation of young women.
Funding cuts to mental health services might also be to blame, they suggested.
“In a climate of limited resources, it is also possible teachers may focus more on behavioural and conduct issues as these tend to disrupt classrooms,” researcher Dr Helen Sharpe, of University College London, told the BBC.
To help overcome this, researchers suggest staff should be given the right resources to look out for emotional problems.
And they argue mental health services should be more widely available.
Sarah Brennan, of the charity YoungMinds, said:”This research is shocking further concrete evidence of the serious and worsening state of children and young people’s mental health in this country.
“Young people tell us they feel enormous pressures today ranging from bullying, the 24/7 online environment and sexual pressures to issues around body image, school stress and family breakdown.
“YoungMinds is concerned that these are affecting girls in particular.”
In the online questionnaire, children were asked how strongly they agreed with a series of statements that are clinically validated to assess the risks of developing a range of mental health issues.
The sample in 2009 was tailored to match the demographics of children who filled in the survey in 2014.
The last comprehensive national survey of children’s mental health was undertaken by the Office for National Statistics more than a decade ago.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists says there is now an urgent need to conduct another one to gather accurate estimates of mental health problems and plan services accordingly.
Self-poisoning and self-injury have widely differing incidences in hospitals and in the community, which has led to confusion about the concept of self-harm.
Categorising self-harm simply by a method may be clinically misleading because many hospital-attending patients switch from one method of harm to another on subsequent episodes. The study set out to determine the frequency, pattern, determinants and characteristics of method-switching in self-harm episodes presenting to the general hospital.
The pattern of repeated self-harm was established from over 33,000 consecutive self-harm episodes on a multicentre English cohort, categorising self-harm methods as poisoning, cutting, other injury, and combined methods.
Over an average of 30 months of follow-up, 23% of people repeated self-harm and one-third of them switched method, often rapidly, and especially where the person was male, younger, or had self-harmed previously. Self-poisoning was far less likely than other methods to lead on to switching.
Self-harm episodes that do not lead to hospital attendance are not included in these findings but people who self-harmed and went to hospital but were not admitted from the emergency department the general hospital, or did not receive designated psychosocial assessment are included. People in the study were a mix of prevalent as well as incident cases.
Method of self-harm is fluctuating and unpredictable. Clinicians should avoid false assumptions about people’s risks or needs based simply on the method of harm.