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Lewisham Safeguarding Children Board

Lewisham Safeguarding Children Board

Email: safeguardingboard@lewisham.gov.uk

Tel: 020 8314 3396

Self-harm & Suicide Ideation

Mental health problems affect around one in 10 children and young people . This includes depression, anxiety, and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.

Self-harm is when someone hurts themselves on purpose and is a way of expressing deep distress, a way of communicating what cannot be put into words, with very difficult feelings that could build up inside. It is not attention seeking behaviour.

Self-Harm is a very common behaviour in young people and affects around one in 12 young people.  

Warning signs of Self-Harm

  • People who self-harm may suffer mood swings and become withdrawn.
  • Unexplained wounds.
  • Have a lack of motivation.
  • There may be changes in their eating habits.
  • They may cover up their body (even in warm weather).

Warning signs of Suicide Ideation

They may be:

  • Quiet, brooding, or withdrawn.
  • Feeling exhausted and distant.
  • Feeling cut off from those around them.
  • Not making eye contact.
  • Agitated, irritable or rude.
  • Talking about suicide or saying it’s all hopeless.
  • Desperate for help but afraid to ask.

They may also:

  • Be busy, chirpy, laughing and joking, talking about future plans, and telling you not to worry about them.

The safest way to know if someone is thinking about suicide is to ask them. If a person is suicidal the idea is already there. If they aren’t suicidal it won’t do any harm. Saying something is safer than saying nothing.

Risk Factors of Self-Harm & Suicide Ideation

 

  • Stressful life events.
  • Isolation.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • On-going family relationship problems.
  • Being bullied at school.
  • Bereavement.
  • Mental health problems – depression and delusional thoughts.
  • Substance and alcohol misuse.
  • Family circumstances.
  • Stress and worry – academic pressure.
  • Experience of abuse – physical, emotional, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and forced marriage.
  • Feelings of being rejected in their lives.

 Types of Self-Harm

  • Cutting of the skin with objects (e.g. razor blades, scissors, pens, bottle tops etc.)
  • Scratching the skin.
  • Picking wounds or interfering with healing.
  • Burning.
  • Ingesting toxic substances.
  • Excessive drug or alcohol intake.
  • Hitting or punching themselves.
  • Head banging or biting themselves.
  • Pulling hair out.
  • Swallowing or inserting objects.
  • Taking an overdose.
  • Staying in an abusive relationship.
  • Taking risks too easily.
  • Restricting their eating.Young people can self-harm in a variety of body locations, i.e. arms, legs, abdomen, etc.

Responding to Self-Harm in Lewisham

If a child or young person overdoses or there is a serious self-harm incidence they should be taken to A&E in the first instance. An assessment will be undertaken which may involve a referral to the Children & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

If you become aware of a young person who is self-harming or having suicidal thoughts. Explore their feelings with them and talk about the help available:-

Share what you know with the child’s parents / carers.

Resources

Coping with Self-Harm

Guide for anyone working with children and young people.

Calm Harm App.

Services

  • Young Minds
    • Parents Helpline 0808 802 55 44
    • Advice for professionals

  • GP – Make an appointment to talk about your concerns.  Your child may need some support from the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
  • Kooth
    • Online chat support for young people

  • Work it Out Lewisham 
    • Information on services and support available in Lewisham.

  • Papyrus Hopeline 0800 068 41 41
    • Confidential advice for young people
    • Advice for parents / carers.
    • Advice for professionals

  • ChildLine – 0800 11 11
    • Confidential advice for young people
    • Advice for professionals

  • Place2Be
    • Individual one to one, drop in counselling for children and young people experiencing emotional wellbeing issues at 10 schools in Lewisham.
  • Lewisham Mind Kit
    • Online resources for range of mental health/ wellbeing issues and peer mentoring support

  • National Self-Harm Network
    • UK charity offering moderated support forum for self-harm
  • NHS Choices - Moodzone
    • Online and audio resources to improve mental wellbeing and information about available treatments
  • MindEd
    • Online training for anyone working with 0-18 year olds

 

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