Hundreds of teenagers and children are being treated in hospital A&E after deliberately cutting, burning or poisoning themselves, figures reveal.
The scale of the problem of self-harming in under 18s has been revealed in new data from Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.
And it emerged the youngest patient was just eight.
The hospital said the figures did not record the number of children as many were seen several times a year.
Self-harming can involve cutting, burning, bruising, poisoning, scratching, hair-pulling or overdosing.
The Trust’s figures suggest it is experiencing a steep rise in self-harm cases among youngsters – similar to a national trend.
The youngest child treated by emergency doctors was just eight-years-old.
A surge in attendances at A&E has been seen over the past five years with levels going up most years.
In 2009/10 there were 266 attendances but by the following year it was 377.
Attendances peaked in 2011/12 with 421 cases, dropping slightly in 2012/13 to 334.
But they rose again last year to 390, a 17% increase.
The NSPCC has confirmed the issue is becoming more significant amid a 41% increase in youngsters needing ChildLine counselling sessions about self-harm in 2012/13.
Huddersfield University psychology expert, Sarah-Jane Daly, said the issue was far more prevalent now as youngsters learned from social media and the internet.
“Children may be getting bullied at school or not getting on with their parents,” she said. “There’s research where self-harmers have reported that by deliberately hurting themselves it can often change their state of mind.
“The reality is the vast majority of people who self harm are not trying to kill themselves. It’s about trying to deal with difficult feelings or circumstances.
“The psychological pain will be much more distressing than any physical pain.
“By cutting or hurting themselves it will bring them back into the world, back to reality, to remember that they are alive and well.”
Ms Daly, said there was far more support and understanding from health services now but there was still work to do as many self-harmers reported feeling ashamed by what they’d done.
She added: “It’s difficult to understand why some want to do it – it’s a huge area of research.
“Previously it was assumed they were attention seekers but we’ve moved past that.
“We know just telling them to stop doesn’t work, it’s about getting to the root of why the behaviour is happening.
“But clearly there’s still not enough understanding of the issue”.
Kirklees Council, together with Greater Huddersfield and North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Groups, provides children and young people with counselling support around emotional health and wellbeing.
The service receives referrals from schools, a range of professionals including GPs, hospitals, parents and carers or self-referral by the children and young people themselves.
Officials also provides sessions on a range of subjects including self-harm in Kirklees schools to staff, students and parents.
HOW TO GET HELP
Anyone with concerns around a child or young person’s emotional wellbeing or a young person who is finding it difficult to deal with their feelings, can call Northorpe Hall on 01924 492183.
Parents or youngsters worried about cyberbullying or self-harming can find help and advice at www.nspcc.org.uk
If you’re worried about your child or you need advice call the NSPCC’s helpline on 0808 800 5000 to speak to one of our trained counsellors.
If you feel your child does not want to talk to you or another adult they know, you can suggest they call ChildLine , in confidence on 0800 1111.