Urgent support needed for the epidemic of self-harm
Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD) is a global event held annually on 1 March. Also known as Self-Harm Awareness Day, its purpose is to remove the stigma attached to self-injury and to encourage parents, family members, educators and healthcare professionals to recognise the signs of self-harm.
Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive of SANE, comments to mark Self-Injury Awareness Day:
“This Self-Injury Awareness Day comes after two years of pandemic and lockdowns which have taken a significant toll on people’s mental health and restricted access to specialist services.
“Before Covid, SANE had been warning of an epidemic of self-harm and the worsening extent of the injuries inflicted. Many are still waiting too long for treatment or unable to access any kind of help at all.
“This is especially concerning as self-harm is a major risk factor for suicide. Our own research shows as many as one in three suicides by people with mental illness could be prevented if crisis services were more effective and responsive.
“We urgently need to ensure that support is available for those at risk. Given that the majority of mental illness starts in adolescence, we risk losing the opportunity to protect the mental health of future generations.”
Contrary to many people’s perceptions that self-harm is a way of attracting attention and sympathy, a survey conducted by SANE of almost 1,000 people found that it is more often a hidden, silent crie de coeur that people use to protect themselves, their families and others close to them from their own mental pain.
See SANE’s Self-harm study for more information.