A 'little book' to help young self harmers

SELF harm statistics for young people have been described as 'terrible and shocking' by a youth service manager

SELF harm statistics for young people have been described as 'terrible and shocking' by a youth service manager.Latest National Youth Agency figures show that five per cent of boys and eight per cent of girls aged 13-15 have considered trying to self harm, hurt or kill themselves. Nationally 142,000 young people attend hospital as a result of self-harm each year.Somerset County Youth Service Manager John Calvert works with children in Wedmore, Axbridge, and Burnham and said that statistically, the age of 13-15 is the most distressing time for youngsters. He said: "Children at that age have a lot to deal with, they have to cope with puberty and exams."To combat self harm, Somerset County Council's Youth Service has launched 'The Little Book of Self Harm' which offers advice and information to young people who self harm or are considering it.Mr Calvert said: "We are running workshops to promote assertiveness and self esteem, so youths don't become self harmers. Young people who took part in the workshops have said they feel better about themselves, more confident and less likely to get into self harming."The books, about the size of a credit card, are primarily designed for young people, but will also be used by youth workers who work with self harmers. Axbridge Youth Centre, Wedmore Youth Club and the Young People's Internet Cafe in Wedmore all stock them.Mr Calvert said: "We are currently working with youth groups, but we would like to go into schools in the south in the future."Senior youth worker Gail McCarthy has already used the booklet at the Wedmore internet cafe. She said: "Self harm is an issue for all young people in our area. It is found everywhere. We want to work with young people to find better coping strategies."The young people who have looked at it say they find it useful and non-judgmental. There has been a good response."Mr Calvert added: "We may need to do more local research to find out how many youths self harm in our area. The trouble is, a lot of self harm can go unnoticed, and that is a serious issue in itself.