Expert urges people to get help for self-harm

World Self-Injury Awareness Day is on Saturday 1 March and one of the UK’s leading experts in self-harm and suicide is joining the call to try and raise awareness of the issue.

Professor Nav Kapur works for Manchester Mental Health Social Care Trust and leads research at The University of Manchester’s Centre for Suicide Prevention in the city.

“Self-harm is a really important problem and we know that people who hurt themselves also have a higher risk of suicide.  Unfortunately it’s an issue that often remains hidden.  It’s vitally important that people get the help they need and quickly,” he said. “That’s why we are carrying out research studies which aim to improve care and treatment for those who self-harm, not only here in Manchester but across the country.”

Rates of self-harm (including self-poisoning and other self-injury) remain high in Manchester and may be increasing.  Although nationally, there was a reduction in suicide rates in 2012, according to the latest data issued by the Office of National Statistics, the suicide rate was highest in the North West at 12.4 deaths per 100,000 population.  

“So it’s clear that this is a concern that we need to keep addressing,” added Professor Kapur.

The University’s Centre for Suicide Prevention and the Trust have been leading on a number of studies to tackle the problem.

“Our recent work showed that probably just over half of people in England get a full assessment by a mental health professional when they arrive at hospital following self-harm.  This is despite national guidance which says that all people should be assessed.  It’s important that we work hard to improve care for people who self-harm, particularly as some of our other work suggests that simply getting an assessment may reduce the chances of someone repeating self-harm by as much as 40%.”