HUNDREDS of children in Wigan have been rushed to hospital after self-harming in the last three years, an alarming new study has revealed.
But the true scale of young people who harm themselves could be far greater, according to experts.
New figures show there were 411 emergency hospital admissions in Wigan for children under the age of 18 who self-harmed in the periods 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10 – an average of 137 each year.
The rate of hospital admissions was 1.4 times higher than the national average, with girls more likely to harm themselves than boys.
There are now growing fears that the number of young self-harmers in the borough could be much higher as many children choose not to seek medical help.
Lynn Deacon, author of the report, said: “Self-harm can be a very secretive and private issue. We would expect the numbers of children who self-harm to be far higher than the rate of hospital admissions.”
Kerri Jones, a former self-harmer herself, said the figures were “the tip of the iceberg” and revealed low self esteem was a major problem for many young people who chose to harm themselves.
She runs the No Secret group for two hours each week at the Platt Bridge Community Zone, to give peer support to other sufferers.
Kerri, 24, said: “The figures for hospital admissions are just the tip of the iceberg. We have 12 regular people who attend the support group and only three or four have ever received medical attention.
“The group looks at finding different coping mechanisms for people, rather than self harm. It gives them hope that they can get through it and lets people know they are not on their own.
“I used to self-harm when I was younger. I had lost my purpose in life and the No Secrets group helped hugely.
“There can be lots of reasons why people self-harm, but for many it is about control. If parents