Northern Ireland

Self-harm: 10% of NI children have injured themselves

Depressed child
One in ten Northern Ireland young people reported that they have self-harmed

One in ten young people in Northern Ireland have self-harmed, according to a study by Glasgow University and the Northern Ireland Department of Health.

More than 3,500 schoolchildren were interviewed for the survey.

Past exposure to years of conflict and the emergence of social media are new associated risk factors, it said.

Bullying, sexual, physical, alcohol and drug abuse have also been blamed. Rates of mental disorders are among the highest in Europe.

The rate of self-harm reported by young people was lower than elsewhere in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

'Result of conflict'

However, the lower rate, according to the research, was unexpected given that the rates of hospital-treated self-harm are high in Northern Ireland while the rates of mental disorders are among the highest in Europe.

Researchers believe that the discrepancy is due to the fact that as a result of the conflict, young people in Northern Ireland are more reluctant to disclose personal information, masking the true extent of the problem.

Prof Rory O'Connor, chair in health psychology at the University of Glasgow, said: "These findings highlight the wide range of risk factors associated with self-harm.

"They also suggest that the emotional and psychological legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict, as well as the influence of new technologies, are associated with self-harm among adolescents in Northern Ireland - and need to be addressed.

"It is important to note that more research is required before we are able to fully understand the full legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict, as well as the influence of new technologies on the mental well being of our youth."

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