Scottish self-harm revealed

By staff

A new survey has found 14 per cent of teenagers in Scotland have self-harmed at some time, and the same number again have thought seriously about doing so.

The report, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry today, is claimed to be the first-ever to examine the prevalence of self-harm in Scotland.

Researchers asked 2008 school children, aged 15 and 16, to complete an anonymous questionnaire about the subject.

Of the 14 per cent who admitted to having harmed themselves, the majority (71 per cent) had done so in the past 12 months.

The survey also found that girls in Scotland were 3.4 times more likely to self-harm than boys.

The most common motive given for self-harm was “to get relief from a terrible state of mind”, the researchers found, with almost four in ten of the teenagers reporting they wanted to die.

The authors of the report found a number of factors were associated with the desire to self-harm, including bullying, anxiety and worries about sexual orientation.

Girls also cited problems involving low levels of optimism, drug use, physical abuse and serious boy-girlfriend problems.

“The findings suggest a role for emotional literacy programmes in schools, and highlight the importance of promoting positive mental health among adolescents,” the authors added.