Between 2011 and 2014, reports of teen girls aged 13-16 harming themselves increased dramatically by 68 percent in the UK.


Researchers who conducted the study have urged that multiple agencies need to make this issue a priority, by both discovering the cause of such a steep rise in self-harm amongst young girls and aiding those at risk.


The BMJ-published study analysed information about almost 17,000 youths in the UK aged 10-19 who harmed themselves at some point between 2001 and 2014. This self-harm included self-poisoning and other injuries to themselves.


Children and teens who harmed themselves were nine times more likely to die by unnatural means during follow-up. This included a worryingly increased likelihood of death by suicide or acute alcohol poisoning.



A history of non-fatal self-harm is the 'strongest risk factor for subsequent suicide', according to the study. After road traffic accidents, suicide is the most common way to die for young people around the world aged 10-24 to die.


One especially troubling discovery of the study had to do with the lack of mental health support given to those children and teens living in socio-economically deprived areas.


Even though low-income areas had some of the highest rates of self-harm among adolescents, young people who were registered in such localities were 23 percent less likely to be referred to specialists within 12 months of harming themselves.


The researchers also noted that in general, the actual rate of self-harm is likely higher than current figures, since the data is mainly based on hospital figures.



While the cause of this sharp rise in self-harm amongst young girls is not known, researchers theorized that it could be due partially to biological factors, such as puberty and the beginning of sexual activity.


They also put forth that we are possibly living in more stressful times, with the constant connectivity of the Internet putting undue pressure on adolescent girls.


Do you know anyone who has been affected by self-harm? Have you talked to your children about self-harm and suicide?