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Schools 'struggling to cope' with students self-harming

Schools are struggling to deal with rising numbers of students self-harming, two major teaching unions say.

The number of pupils hurting themselves is said to be at a high.

NHS figures obtained by BBC Newsbeat show a 20% rise in the number of 10 to 19-years-olds admitted to hospital because of self-harm injuries across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government says it has asked experts to examine how to tackle self-harming and related issues in schools.

The NHS figures show the number of hospital admissions rose from 22,978 in 2012-13 to 28,730 in the following year.

Figures for Scotland were not available.

According to the National Association of Head Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, spending cuts to local services have left schools without as much expert medical help as in the past.

Dr Max Davie, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), says feeling pressured at school, or by friends, family and the media can all play their part in why young people self-harm.

"[These figures] are very worrying," he said.

"We have to remember that people self-harm because they're in psychological distress that's so severe that they prefer physical harm or physical pain to their psychological state.

"So the real question is why are more young people experiencing unbearable psychological distress?

"They are often isolated and if that isolation is extended to their own families that can be very serious and damaging.

"There aren't enough services. If they reach out and talk about their problems there is often no-one there who is able to listen who is able to address their issues".

Holly Rabey, 19, from Plymouth, was 12 when she first started to hurt herself.

"I started because I was bullied in school which caused a lot of anxiety.

"It went from scratches on my forearms to deeper cuts on my wrists and my legs, on my sides, on my stomach.

"I sometimes bruised myself. I would sometimes burn myself as well."

At her lowest point Holly was admitted to hospital after overdosing.

"I was in my bedroom. I'd had a terrible day at college and I started cutting myself on my wrists and I was very, very scared of myself and what I was doing.

"There was a lot of blood and I felt like I needed a way out.

"I felt like I needed to die."

For more information, view details of our recent conference on self-harm, and to view video's, papers and the toolkit that can help schools at http://www.asknormen.co.uk/self-harm-and-suicidal-ideation-conference-resources/

View the article by BBC Newsbeat at http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/30695657

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