+61 406 930 699 glyn@keystoneskills.com.au

Menu
SELF HARM

CRIES FOR HELP

SELF-HARM ON THE INCREASE

A WORRYING number of northern beaches children, some as young as six, are deliberately injuring themselves, experts say.

Seaforth psychologist Phil Nunn, who has more than 20 years’ experience in children’s behaviour on the northern beaches, said his case load had doubled in the past two years.

He revealed disturbing evidence of self-harm involving children cutting their arms, burning or hitting themselves and said that he had also personally seen a case of deliberate self-choking.

While the victims are mainly girls, Mr Nunn had noticed a definite increase in the number of boys selfharming and was also concerned about the young age of some of those injuring themselves.

Professor Brett McDermott, a psychiatrist specialising in child and youth

mental health, said: “In my view there has been a spectacular rise in children selfharming in the last 10 years.”

National figures suggest one in 10 adolescents has self-harmed at some point in the past year — three children in every classroom.

“Young people are self-injuring because they are trying to cope with their feelings,” Mr Nunn told the

Manly Daily.

He said self-injury was not “attention seeking” because most did so in private and tried to keep it hidden. Often they felt ashamed.

He said it was “attention needing” and that young people needed non-judgmental support.

Experts have revealed that one 16-year-old from the area, who had been sexually assaulted at a party when she was drunk, then started scratching and cutting herself after her boyfriend broke up with her. The teen said she felt like a “balloon that was about to pop” and that self-harming helped to “reduce the pressure”. She said she could not control the thoughts in her head and found cutting released the terror and brought a sense of calm.

Mr Nunn said he had been asked to talk about issues affecting teens in local high schools such as anti-bullying and harm minimisation.

Last year he said he gave three talks to parents, students and prefects at Pittwater High on how students can build resilience to teen problems, praising it as a positive example of what schools should be doing to help.

“A lot of schools think by not talking about it (selfharming) they can shut it down,” Mr Nunn said. “But that drives it underground. You can’t ignore this.”

Mr Nunn said parents and teachers needed to be more aware of the problem and that telling the child “not to be so silly” was not helpful.

Professor McDermott, also board director with Beyond Blue which supports people suffering anxiety and depression, said the internet and social media had “normalised” self-harming.

He said it was becoming more acceptable among children as a means of coping with their usual “adolescent feelings”.

“More young people seem to be self-harming,” he said.

“We need to teach young people alternative coping mechanisms.”

PLEA TO TEACH BETTER COPING MECHANISMS

From page 01

The teen said she felt like a “balloon that was about to pop” and that self-harming helped to “reduce the pressure”. She said she could not control the thoughts in her head and found cutting released the terror and brought a sense of calm.

Mr Nunn said he had been asked to talk about issues affecting teens in local high schools such as anti-bullying and harm minimisation.

Last year he said he gave three talks to parents, students and prefects at Pittwater High on how students can build resilience to teen problems, praising it as a positive example of what schools should be doing to help.

“A lot of schools think by not talking about it (self harming) they can shut it down,” Mr Nunn said. “But that drives it underground. You can’t ignore this.”

Mr Nunn said parents and teachers needed to be more aware of the problem and that telling the child “not to be so silly” was not helpful.

Professor McDermott, also board director with Beyond Blue which supports people suffering anxiety and depression, said the internet and social media had “normalised” self-harming.

He said it was becoming more acceptable among children as a means of coping with their usual “adolescent feelings”.

“More young people seem to be self-harming,” he said.

“We need to teach young people alternative coping mechanisms.”

 

  • 13 Feb 2015
  • Manly Daily
  • Julie Cross