Self-Harm in young on the rise says charity

An increasing number of young people in the UK are choosing to deliberately hurt themselves. This is according to children’s charities ChildLine, YouthNet and YoungMinds, as well as the webiste, which came together to raise awareness of the issue for Self-harm Awareness Day (1 March), BBC News reports.

The groups explained that not only are more teenagers self-harming, but that younger children are beginning to be affected by the issue.

It is hoped that by joining forces, the charities can reduce the stigma attached to self-harm and to dispel some of the myths that surround it.

The groups warned that children as young as ten have called helplines to say they have purposefully injured themselves, while around one in ten young people are believed to have hurt themselves at one point or another.

Paediatrician and television presenter Dr Ranj Singh said: “The problem is related to emotional distress and anguish and feelings of anxiety, pain and depression. A lot of that can be due to increasing societal pressure as a whole.”


Charity received reports of domestic violence attacks from 13,500 people – 80% of them women – in 2012

Domestic violence figures are disturbingly high, says charity

When the emergency services arrived at Rebecca Beattie’s home, a trail of blood led to where she lay, battered, on the kitchen floor. A day after he had promised to kill her if she left him, her partner returned home to find her with friends – attacking them and then repeatedly punching and kicking the mother of his son as she lay at his feet.

“I remember having this overwhelming feeling that this was the end of my life, this was it, but then I thought of my son and decided it couldn’t be the end – I had to see him again,” she said. “Later they told me that in the ambulance I was wailing, ‘This is not my life’.”

The war against domestic violence was meant to have been won, with a 40% decline in incidents since 1995, according to the British Crime Survey. But, in worrying new figures, the charity Citizens Advice has reported a substantial increase in the number of people telling advisers they are victims.

The figures reveal that 13,500 people – 80% of them women – reported domestic violence to Citizens Advice last year. There were 3,300 reported incidents between October and December 2012, an 11% increase on the same period the previous year. Although the figures should be treated with a degree of caution – a spike in reports of domestic violence, often considered to be a hidden crime, can arise as women feel more able to report it – Citizens Advice is sufficiently concerned to open specialist services for victims in 10 of its UK offices.

“These figures for domestic violence cases show it is disturbingly high and afflicts all levels of society – it haunts the lives of too many women and children,” said Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive.

Calling on the prime minister to honour a promise made on International Women’s Day to tackle the problem, she added: “As the scale of government cuts start to bite, we are concerned that our trend highlights how levels of domestic violence could get even worse. We need to see the government doing everything it can to deal with the problems of violence against women in our society and ensure they get the support they need.”

According to Home Office figures, 1.2 million women experienced domestic abuse last year in the UK, including half a million victims of sexual assault.

There is a hidden epidemic of abuse undermining decades of progress in the women’s liberation movement, according to Holly Dustin of the End Violence Against Women coalition.

“These current scandals show that abuse of women and girls is still a massive problem for our society, that we are only just starting to grapple with. We need more than policy and procedures, we need nothing less than a revolution in the way we think about this, across every section of society,” she said.

New research from Women’s Aid and Refuge – the largest provider of accommodation for domestic violence victims – reveals that, despite high-profile campaigns, many women, particularly teenagers, do not know where to turn for help if they are being abused.

The organisations, backed by Avon which financed a survey of more than 2,000 UK women, found a third did not know where to seek support, while among 16- to 18-year-olds the figure rose to 50%. In the same age group, 62% of respondents were not sure if excessive jealousy was a sign of domestic violence, while 15% could not say if punching was domestic violence. A 2005 study from the NSPCC found 43% of teenage girls questioned believed that it was acceptable for a boyfriend to be aggressive towards his partner.

Claire, who is now 22, was abused by her boyfriend from the age of 15 but did not recognise that she was a victim of domestic abuse. At first he would undermine her confidence and call her names, hack into her emails and check her texts. Then came the physical abuse, relentless kicks and punches, always landing on areas of her body where bruising wouldn’t show.

“I didn’t think domestic violence happened to teenagers – I just thought it was something that happened to married couples,” she said. “I didn’t really know what a healthy relationship was, I suppose. I had nothing to compare it to.”

She firmly believes children should be taught about domestic violence. “I look back at all the pointless things I learned in school, and just think they could have taught me this one key thing. I think it would help so many people not get into bad relationships, but also stop people causing them.”

Joanne Wood, who was abused by her partner from the age of 16, was similarly unaware of what was happening to her, not recognising that being forced to have sex was wrong. “I’d cry every time and he would do certain positions so he didn’t have to see me cry,” she said. “He was my boyfriend so I didn’t think it could be rape.”

With only 15% of 16- to 18-year-olds getting knowledge of domestic violence from school, a total rethink of sex and relationship education was needed, said Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge. “Refuge and Women’s Aid are struggling to make a difference but we can’t do it on our own, we need proper government funding and commitment to get sex and healthy relationships education into every school in the UK,” she said.

She added that 50% of Refuge services had been hit by funding cuts since the introduction of austerity measures. “Finding a bed for an abused women is like gold dust,” she said. “These are worrying times for the domestic violence sector, services are being eroded so it is time to call for a sea change and argue that prevention is better than cure.” The Speaking Out in Her Name campaign from Refuge and Women’s Aid is calling for statutory relationships education, a move that has been blocked by the Department for Education, according to Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow. “The government wants to leave it up to schools whether they teach children about relationships, but I can’t understand why in schools children will be guaranteed education about finance, but not about consent,” she said. “I am worried the government does not understand the true costs of that choice.”

A Department for Education spokesman said all schools were encouraged to provide a broad programme of sex and relationship education. “They must set an age-appropriate curriculum which best suits their pupils, and consult with parents when drawing up sex and relationship education policies,” he said.

Jeremy Browne, Home Office minister for crime prevention, said: “Domestic and sexual violence are dreadful crimes and we are serious about tackling the abuse suffered by women and girls across the country. Through our This is Abuse campaign, we have taken great strides in challenging unacceptable attitudes in teenage relationships and in helping teenagers to recognise abuse when they see it.”

He added that the government had ringfenced nearly £40m until 2015 to help fund domestic and sexual violence support services.

Rebecca, who was abused from the age of 17 until last year, is now 24. After the final attack left her needing reconstructive surgery on her face, her boyfriend pleaded guilty to assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was jailed for 16 months. She specifically asked for her real name to be used in this article. “I want to show that I am not going to let him scare me any more; he’s not in control of my life,” she said. “I do feel safe now, I am protected – and I want other women to know you can leave an abusive relationship, there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Suicide is a gender issue 25,841 more males committed suicide than women in a decade

Suicide is a gender issue 25,841 more males committed suicide than women in a decade

Each time suicide reaches the headlines our attention is directed at particular groups – middle-aged men, people in deprived areas or in certain professions. This is splitting hairs.

The latest statistics underline the message that Calm (the campaign against living miserably) has maintained for years; gender runs through UK suicide statistics like letters in a stick of rock. The highest suicide rate is among men aged 30-44, in men aged 45 to 59 suicide has increased significantly between 2007 and 2011, and in 2011 more men under 35 died from suicide in the UK than road accidents, murder and HIV/Aids combined. Even in the 60+ age group, men were three times more likely to take their lives than women.

Recent University of Liverpool research indicated that the economic downturn was likely to add 1,000 suicides over and above what we could expect; with around 800 more men and 200 women killing themselves as a direct result of the recession. The research proposed that the government needed to look at interventions and policies that will sustain and support jobs. Other research by the Samaritans has focused on older men, concluding that these men, at the lower end of the socio-economic scale, were emotionally illiterate, which explained their high suicide rate.

But surely the big question is why is suicide three to four times more likely in men of any age group?

A complacent explanation for the difference is that men attempt more violent forms of suicide and are therefore more likely to be successful. But take Scottish deaths from 1974-2008. In 1974 the number of Scottish male deaths from suicide stood at 278, women at 264 – numbers then diverged dramatically. Male suicides rose year-on-year to a high of 679 in 1993, and the figures remained high. Meanwhile female suicides only exceeded 300 in two years during the whole period.

Poverty and mental health issues affect both genders. The variable factor is culture and society; how we expect men to act, and how they feel they can behave. Suicide prevention work must, therefore, address this.

Men, regardless of age group, often don’t recognise when they are depressed. Depression in men is likely to be signalled by anger, so won’t be recognised either by men themselves or by women as depression. Ironically, they may end up in jail rather than a GP’s surgery. For a man to ask for help is seen as failure, because by convention men are supposed to be in control at all times.

It seems to be accepted that men just won’t ask for help or therapy. Calm’s phonelines tell a different story. We’ve found that if you promote a service aimed at men, in a manner that fits with their lifestyle and expectations, they will ask for help. We struggle to keep up with demand.

We believe that if we are to combat suicide we have to ensure that all men are aware of the symptoms of depression and feel able to access help without being seen as less of a man for doing so. If boys can’t talk about stuff but girls can then we should tackle this. If men can’t get to their surgery because it’s closed during the working week, then address this. Risk assessments need to reflect gender diversity and women need to be aware of the symptoms of depression in men. We need to challenge the idea that a “strong and silent” man is desirable and challenge the notion that men talking, showing emotion and being “sensitive” is weak.

The number of male suicides over the age of 15 in England and Wales from 2001 to 2011 totalled 38,621. The number of women in the same period totalled 12,780. A difference of 25,841. All of these numbers are too high, but for me the stark contrast between men and women is 25,841 reasons to talk about gender.


The Guardian newspaper January 23 2013

What a drag!

It took me 3 hours to drag myself out of bed this morning, I could hear the world around me moving and I felt paralysed. As ever I was 40 mins late to work, problem is apart from feeling like a let down I don’t care about anything.

My issue in life is guilt, most of what I do is out of guilt, not out of longing or wanting or seeing hope in it. I work in the company I work for because of guilt, I’m helping people I know out (though I’m sure now they feel I’m more of a liability than a help), I live in London out of guilt.. I should be near my family .. my parents aren’t getting younger, it’s got to a point where seeing friends has come out of guilt.

Yesterday I’d made plans to see a friend who’s been a little down lately, once I’d organised this outting that tbh I didn’t want to be part of but felt if she’s down I should be there for her, I got a message from another friend saying she’d like to escape and go out and plz take her out. I obviously invited her to join our outting to which she said no, and I felt shit.

I know i can’t rip myself in to 2, and I know i cant b  there for everyone. But at the same time, I’m wishing someone would be there for me so hate it wen I fail to see that a friend is hurting or am unable to be there for them i feel like a let down.

As usual, I’m the last person on my friends’ agenda.. yesterday i got a message from a friend about an issue she’s having so I replied and suggested she come out too knowing full well the other girl would leave early as she has an early rise in the morning. The response I got was ‘will let you know when im done with wat I’m doing’. 3 hours later I got nothing so I messaged and said ‘whats the plan?’ she didn’t reply for about 15 mins then sent the odd message every now and then never actually answering the Q of whether or not she was coming. Finally I find out she decided to change plans and just go home to curl up and watch a movie, her excuse: thought u were gonna message me? I sent her the text she sent me and she said ‘yes i did arrange to meet you but changed’.

I know to a normal person it happens and no issue, but the day before this I had talked to her about how alone Ive been feeling and how people don’t really bother with me and sit with me but pay more attn to their fones than to me and im sat RIGHT there! so ud think she’d take care the next day NOT to do the same to me!

Also, Ive seen her with her phone it’s tattooed to her hand, when Im with her she’s on it all the time, when I message her takes ages to reply though I know she’s replying or replied to others, sometime mutual friends will say something that tells me she’s just messaged me.

She doesn’t have a duty to care, but she’s my closest friend, when I first told her I was feeling alone and felt i could talk to no one she got hurt and insulted. But since then she’s not said a word or tried and constantly blows me off to c other friends and then strings me along ‘yeah we’ll meet at 8’ then 7pm ‘listen can we do later? can u make other plans and I’ll tell u when im done and ill meet you somewhere’ it’s like I have to plan my social life to fit in to her constantly changing life none of which prioritises me…

I feel hurt…. I feel alone…. and I know it seems childish but there’s no1 I can turn to… no1 cares