By Mona McAlinden
BBC Scotland news website
A study has suggested that up to 14% of 15 and 16-year-olds across central Scotland have self-harmed.
Stirling University experts questioned 2,000 teenagers in 2006/07. A follow-up study of 500 of the youths six months later found that 6% had self-harmed.
The experts said self-harming was more prevalent than official figures suggested because less than a quarter of those affected had gone to hospital.
The findings will be presented at a conference on suicide in Glasgow.
The study found that teenagers who reported having concerns about their sexual orientation, a history of sexual abuse or those who knew a family member who had self-harmed were five times more likely to hurt themselves.
High levels of anxiety and low self-esteem were also found to be key factors.
Professor Rory O'Connor, from Stirling University's Suicidal Behaviour Research Group, which carried out the research, said any of those factors made young people five-times more likely to self-harm.
Professor O'Connor is co-president of the four-day European Symposium on Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour, which starts on Wednesday at a Glasgow hotel.
Prof O'Connor said 2007's suicide rate should not be taken out of context
More than 500 experts will attend the largest conference on suicide ever hosted in the UK.
Edinburgh University's Professor Stephen Platt, also a co-president of the event, said the younger a person was, the more likely they were to self-harm.
"This latest research confirms we have a serious problem of self-harm in the UK, particularly among women," he said.
He added that the suicide risk was 60 to 100 times higher among those who had hurt themselves.
The latest suicide statistics were recently published by the Registrar General for Scotland.
SUICIDES AND PROBABLE SUICIDES IN SCOTLAND
The total number of suicides and probable suicides last year was 838, a rise of 73 on 2006.
However, Professor O'Connor said the figures should not be taken out of context.
"What we normally do is look at three-year rolling averages," he said.
"When we compare the suicide rates between 2000 and 2002, with those in 2005 and 2007, there is an overall decrease.
"Nobody ever likes to see an increase obviously, but we cannot focus on one year because it may be a blip rather than a trend."
He said the Scottish Government's suicide prevention body, Choose Life, was halfway through a 10-year programme and that judgements should not be made until that was completed.