Surge in local children self-harming

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There has been a surge in the number of children admitted to A&E for instances of intentional self-harm in the Northern Trust area, which includes the Cookstown and Magherafelt Districts.

The number of local patients under 18, who were identified as having self harmed has risen by almost 50 percent in two years, with 203 admissions in 2013 increasing to 297 admissions in 2015, the second highest total for any NI trust.

The dramatic rise has been mirrored across Northern Ireland and the UK. The government says it has asked experts to examine how to tackle self-harming and related issues in schools.

A spokesperson for the Northern Trust said it was not possible to give an explicit reason for the rise. “Self-harming is a complex behaviour that can present because of a number of mental health issues which need to be examined on an individual basis”, she said.

“A 24-hour liaison psychiatry service has been established in the Emergency Departments of Antrim Area and Causeway Hospitals to ensure that people who present with a mental health problem will have instant access to a mental health assessment. The result is a much faster assessment process which also ensures the appropriate management of patients who present to an emergency department having self-harmed, used alcohol and drugs in a harmful hazardous way or who have mental health difficulties.”

She added that the number of presentations did not equate to the number of people, as a person may present at hospital more than once.

Dr Max Davie, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Paediatrics, says feeling pressured at school, or by friends, family and the media play their part in why children self-harm.