Alarming effect of online self-harm images revealed

Liam McNeilly
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27 Feb 2015

Polling commissioned in the run up to Self-Harm Awareness Day has shed light on the alarming number of 11-21 year olds exposed to online self-harm images. Organised by leading UK youth charities ChildLine, selfharmUK, YoungMinds and YouthNet, the research found that a significant number of young people ‘felt like hurting themselves’ in response to such images.

The polling also revealed the scale of young people self-harming in the UK today. Over half of 11-14 year olds have either self-harmed themselves or know someone who has self-harmed, whilst eight out of every ten 18-21 year olds say they have self-harmed or know someone who has self-harmed.

Key findings

  • One in every four 11-14 year olds and seven out of ten 18-21 year olds said they had seen images online showing someone self harming
  • Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, over half of all 11-14 year olds and one in every four 18-21 year olds said they had ‘felt like hurting themselves’ after seeing these images
  • Of those who d seen an image of someone self-harming, nine out of every ten 11-14 year olds and eight out of every ten 18-21year olds said they had found the images upsetting
  • Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, six out of every ten 11-14 year olds and one in ten 18-21 year olds said they had shared images of someone self-harming on social media
  • Over half of all 11-21 year olds said they wouldn't know how to report an image of someone self-harming on social media
  • Around a third of 11-18 year olds and 69% of 18-21 year olds said they would go online for support and information about self-harm

YoungMInds comments

Speaking on behalf of the charities, Lucie Russell, Director of Campaigns at YoungMinds said that the findings were extremely worrying and asked concerning questions about the relationship between self-harm, children and parts of the online world.

Our research shows that exposure to images of people self-harming online is far too common among children and young people and that this exposure is having a significant effect on their well-being. There is urgent needs for more detailed research so that we can gain a deeper understanding of why the numbers of young people who are self-harming are continuing to climb at such an alarming rate

Self-Harm Awareness Day

To mark Self-Harm Awareness Day (Sunday March 1st), YoungMInds and YouthNet, who contributed to the research, are running a week-long online awareness campaign.

You can follow the Self-Harm Awareness Day activity on Twitter via #selfharm and #selfharmawarenessday and find out more about the campaign on each of the charities websites.

More Information

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