Spike in teens self-harming coincides with economic crisis

More than 20% of Portuguese teenagers are self-harming because they feel sad, angry or nervous, a new study from the World Health Organisation has shown. “Health Behaviour in School-aged children” stresses that self-harming in the 13 to 15 age group “has been increasing due to the economic crisis”. In 2010, percentages in Portugal stood at 15.6%, with girls more prone to self harm than boys.

As to the motives, most of the 6,000 children in the 6th, 8th and 10th grades quizzed said they felt sad (59%), angry (52.3%) and nervous (47.1%).

Almost 40% said they resorted to self harm because they felt disillusioned, 37% said they felt angry, and 27.3% said they felt ‘desperate’.

In the context of the economic crisis, 7.7% of youngsters told inquirers that they went to school or to bed hungry as there was not enough food in the house.

The children also suffered physical and psychological issues: nerves affecting 44.1%, exhaustion- 42.7%, headaches – 31.3%, stomach aches – 22.1%, sadness – 24.7% and fear – 20.1%.

The study revealed that the majority of parents involved were of ‘low education’ and struggling with issues of unemployment which “affected the perception of physical and psychological well being” of their children, particularly when it was the father that did not have a job.

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