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ITV Tyne Tees 'teenage self-harm' investigation

Links to help and advice are listed at the bottom of this article Photo: PA

An investigation by ITV News Tyne Tees shows that in some parts of our region the number of times teenagers are admitted to hospital after self-harming has almost doubled over the last four years. Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists have described the problem as epidemic.

One teenager spoke to us about self-harming.

Warning, some may find the photograph below distressing.

Aimee Wilson tried to kill herself. She was in intensive care on life support. Aimee said that it began with scratching but eventually led to her taking more than 60 over-doses. Aimee's trigger was abuse by someone outside her family.

Aimee when she was in intensive care on life support. Credit: Aimee Wilson

I felt like I was the only person who was entitled to hurt my body because it was being hurt by somebody else, and to be honest, I liked to see the blood as well because it felt like I could see that there was something inside of me and I wasn't just empty which is how I felt.

I did actually stop cutting so much when I stopped taking the overdoses but it got to the point that I would take three in a week.

– Aimee Wilson

Aimee was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she received trauma therapy.

At 26 years old, a decade after the abuse, she is now feeling well and writes a blog to help others who are living with mental illness.

Experts believe the underlying driver for self-harming is emotional distress.

They say that the common factors are often inability to cope at school and unsupportive family life.

It's epidemic of course in our population. We don't see all the children in the region we see all the children with problems and amongst them deliberate self-harm is very common. It seems to have increased in the last four of five years quite substantially. Deliberate self-harm transmits rather like the flu virus it's a behaviour that has become current among certain vulnerable young people.

– Paul McArdle Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

The York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has seen the highest rise in the region

139-257
Number of teenagers admitted to hospital after self-harming in York

In County Durham and Darlington the number rose. It was the second highest number of hospital admissions.

160-218
Number of young girls admitted to hospital after self-harming in County Durham and Darlington

It is important to realise that we are certainly seeing more young people who are self-harming that doesn't necessarily mean that more people are self-harming for various reasons I think they feel more comfortable talking about it now and able to get help with it.

– Zoe Gilder Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

The hospitals on Teesside used to see a high number of young people who deliberately hurt themselves. But admissions have fallen after a new 24 hour crisis service was set up.

We are pretty much a pilot service but yes there is a definite correlation to being available 24 hours when young people need it as traditional CAMHS (Teesside) services close at 5 o clock but crisis doesn't stop at 5 o clock.

It's more difficult than ever to be a young person for a variety of reasons there is lots of pressure on young people and they are in emotional distress much more than when I am a young man.

– John Barnard CAMHS Crisis Service, Teesside

If you are affected, help is available here: