Children self harming hospital admissions rise in Kent

The number of young people admitted to Kent's hospitals after self harming has more than doubled in three years.

Figures obtained by the BBC show that 542 children needed hospital treatment in 2010-11.

East Kent Hospitals trust admitted 185 young people for treatment for injuries from deliberate cuts to attempted suicides, compared to 74 in 2007-8.

The Mental Health Foundation estimates that between one in 12, and one in 15 young people self harm.

One woman from Gravesham, who first self harmed at the age of 16 and has been battling with the problem for the past 11 years, said: "I went too far on two separate occasions and both times somebody stopped me from it going any further.

"They had to take implements away from me. I actually rang them up and begged them to stop me from doing something stupid."

Daphne Joseph, from the mental health charity Youngminds, said: "It's a way of coping with frustrations and stresses and young people say by cutting their skins it somehow releases some of their pent-up frustration and anger.

"Self esteem plays into this. Most of them probably feel quite low about themselves and how they look."

She said that schools were more aware of self harming and were on the lookout for tell-tale signs, such as wearing jumpers in the summer, so the child can cover their arms and hide cuts.

Louise Chapman, from the Kent and Medway NHS Social Care Partnership Trust, said: "We are trying to focus on more early intervention and we are working with schools more closely and reach out to children and young people before it can become an entrenched problem."

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