A quarter of minors who go to the emergency room for psychiatric reasons have injured themselves


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The 25 percent of minors According to a study published by the Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron Psychiatry Service and CIBERSAM, carried out between 2015 and 2017 and published in the journal ‘Actas Españolas de Psiquiatría’ (Spanish actas de Psiquiatría). Specifically, 566 clinical episodes related to a mental health problem that were treated in the pediatric emergency room were analyzed.

As for the cause that leads young people to self-harm, multiple factors interact. There are risk factors sociodemographic (predominantly female), psychopathological (low self-esteem, depression, conduct disorders, substance abuse) and psychosocial precipitating factors (bullying, parental divorce, family problems, sexual abuse, domestic violence, financial problems, unemployment, difficulties in social relationships, feeling different, ethnic and cultural differences).

The study data show how the median age of the boys and girls who consult the emergency room for a problem related to mental health has been decreasing over the years: from 16 years in 2015 to 12 years in 2017.

This problem has been observed especially in girls with an average age of 15 years and often without underlying psychiatric pathologies. As stated by Marc Ferrer, head of the Hospitalization Section of the Psychiatry Service, principal investigator of the Research Group in Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions of the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), researcher at CIBERSAM and leader of the study, these data «invites us to reflect on a growing and worrying problem».

«They are boys and girls who, due to their age, should be enjoying life without too many worries and instead have a great emotional suffering and a manifest inability to bear it, and they lead to self-harm and in some cases suicide, “he adds.

Mónica Sancosmed, from the Pediatric Service, explains that “any way of causing pain is a way of expressing suffering (anger, sadness, loneliness). Are emotions they can’t express, and it is easier for them to control physical pain than emotional pain. With this, they release part of the anxiety they feel.

As he points out, “the increase in precipitating situations such as those mentioned, added to the emergence of new technologies, has generated and promoted this phenomenon.” Many adolescents and pre-adolescents, faced with negative experiences, «take refuge in the virtual reality of social networks, in which lately a change in perception has been added and they no longer see self-harm as a negative thing, and they feel a certain well-being from belonging to a group and being part of something that is fashionable.

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