FAMILIES affected by the trauma of self-harm are joining forces to create a lifeline of support.
Wearside parents and carers who were devastated to discover their children were self-harmers have formed a support group to help others faced with the same situation.
Parents and Carers Together (Pact) meets every other Thursday in Roker to offer support to families.
A Sunderland dad has helped to form the group after he discovered his 17-year-old daughter was cutting herself.
He wishes to remain anonymous to protect her identity.
“Up until six months ago, we never really knew anything about self-harming,” he told the Echo. “We now realise that the North East is the area in the UK which has the greatest growth in it.
“It’s difficult as a parent to recognise the signs, finding out that our daughter self-harmed, and had been since she was 15, certainly opened our eyes.
“There are things you grow accustomed to, like mood swings and wearing long-sleeve tops, that you just put down to them being a teenager but can actually be signs of anxiety. We only found out when my wife was messing around with our daughter play fighting and her sleeve rolled up and we noticed the cuts.
“There weren’t just one or two, we’re talking 12 to 15. She was taking blades out of pencil sharpeners to do it.”
He added: “As a parent your world falls apart when you find out something like that. But being able to talk to someone who has gone through the same thing is a massive help.”
The group founder’s daughter is now receiving treatment. Though he and the other families say they’ve been helped by an NHS group, they wanted to form a more regular support group.
It meets at the community room in the new Tesco in Roker from 6.30pm and lasts for one hour. Anyone can turn up to talk to others and take advice from guest visitors.
The man added: “My daughter is getting help now, but we want to show others that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
•The next Pact meeting will be on March 13. To speak to a Pact member Tel. 07799254950 or email Sunderlandpact@hotmail.co.uk.
Report reveals key triggers
BULLYING and feeling alone are among the reasons children on Wearside self harm, says a new report.
A recent poll, conducted for Self-harm Awareness Day at the start of this month, revealed that one in four young people who self-harm started due to bullying, with 61 per cent saying they do it because they feel alone.
ChildLine, Selfharm.co.uk, YouthNet and YoungMinds have collaborated to support Self-harm Awareness Day and carried out a survey to help understand the key reasons why young people begin to self-harm.
More than 16 per cent of respondents were from across Northern England, including Sunderland, and feeling alone and being bullied were highlighted as the key triggers that led to first-time self harming.
Others included family relationships, pressure to do well as school, emotional abuse and friendship problems.
Christine Mellor, ChildLine’s North East area manager, said: “There are many reasons why young people might self-harm. It’s a way of dealing with overwhelming feelings that can feel very difficult to cope with and young people tell us that physical pain helps them cope with the emotional pain.
“We have seen a significant rise in the amount of children contacting ChildLine about self-harm.”
Young people in need to of advice or support on the issue can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or go to ChildLine.org.uk.