Young people say feeling alone causes them to self-harm

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Young people are not immune to loneliness, with more than half of those who resort to self-harming to deal with destructive emotions citing feeling alone as a key trigger, new research has found.

The Yorkshire Post has revealed how 91,300 older people living alone in our region admit to being lonely all of the time of often, but a survey by a collaboration of young people’s charities reveals that 61 per cent of young people aged 25 and under, from 4,000 who responded to their survey, self-harm because they feel alone.

The research was conducted by ChildLine,, YouthNet and YoungMinds in support of Self-harm Awareness Day tomorrow. Each charity has seen annual increases in demand for their services, with ChildLine seeing a 41 per cent increase in counselling sessions where self-harm was mentioned.

During 2012-2013, more than 955 children and young people from across the UK spoke to counsellors online at the ChildLine base in Leeds about the issue.

Christine Mellor, the charity’s area manager for Yorkshire, said: “There are many reasons why young people might self-harm. It’s a way of dealing with overwhelming feelings that can feel very difficult to cope with and young people tell us that physical pain helps them cope with the emotional pain.”

The Yorkshire Post is campaigning for local authorities to write loneliness into their health strategies, with readers encouraged to send a letter to their local council in support. The campaign is backed by national charity, the Campaign to End Loneliness, and its director Kate Jopling said: “Loneliness can be felt by anyone, regardless of their age. Recent research actually found that levels of loneliness can peak at two points in our lives: when we are in our teens and early twenties, and after we turn 65 and grow older.

“Loneliness has a really serious impact on our mental health, and can drive us to do all sorts of harmful things – including self-harm, drinking too much, smoking or eating unhealthily. It is vital that health and care services, and schools, are aware of the need to prevent loneliness and create an environment in which adults, young and old, can be honest about when they are lacking in social support.”

Young people seeking support can call ChildLine, 24 hours a day, on 0800 1111.

Special report: Loneliness - The Hidden Epidemic

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