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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2006, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
'I was addicted to cutting myself'
The UK has the highest self-harm rates in Europe
An inquiry has found more help should be given to young people who self-harm, while, in a new treatment approach, one hospital's scheme will allow patients who self harm to do so under supervision.

Sophia Gill, a 26-year-old former sufferer, told the BBC how and why she began to cut herself.

I don't think there was any particular reason, or one incident that started me self-harming.

I was 14, I was really depressed - possibly because of exams, or just the pressures that every 14 year old has. I know now it was a side effect of manic depression.

But I felt so overwhelmed and so depressed that I turned one day and just cut my arm. Sadly, it did actually make me feel much better - it got rid of some of the anxiety and pressure and it was a relief.

When you've got so many mental weights and pressures, doing something physical gives you an adrenaline rush. You're really turning the pain that you can't explain, that you can't describe, into something physical that you can then deal with.

It wasn't until I tried to kill myself that the self-harm came out

It's a really weird connection, but sadly it made things seem easier to deal with. I had something I could do that was my own.

I self-harmed for eight months completely in silence - like everyone who self-harms does. You cover it up, you make sure no-one sees it, you wear long sleeves in the summer, all the classic things.

It wasn't until I tried to kill myself and ended up in hospital that the self-harm came out.

'Understanding team'

I don't self-harm anymore, but it took 11 years or more for me to get over it. It is an addiction. People compare it to smoking. Once you start something like that, it's really hard to give up.

A lot of people do think it's just attention-seeking. I guess in some ways I had a varied response from people.

If you're going to self-harm, there is no-one that can stop you

Some were really understanding and I was very lucky - like the health team that I saw in hospital.

But occasionally I'd go into hospital with some cuts and the nurses who were treating me made me feel like a time-wasting teenager.

If you're going to self-harm, there is no-one that can stop you. You'll find away - even in hospital. I did it myself - I managed to escape and cut myself with broken glass.

In some ways, to do it under supervision is better because they are going to be cutting themselves with clean blades, and can get help straight away. It's not going to go too far.

By allowing them to do that, it's showing that you respect them, that it's an addiction and it's not something you can just snap out of.



SEE ALSO:
Website support for self-harmers
15 Nov 05 |  Suffolk


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