Self harm: 'Teachers know it's going on, but they're scared'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The first time 16-year-old Miranda Jackson* harmed herself was after her step-father had sent her upstairs to her room after an argument between them. She was aged nine.

"I was crying and I had a small china dog and I smashed it - that made me cry more - and I picked it up and it cut my hand and I did it again, and again on my knee," she said.

For years, she kept her self-harming secret: "I told my mum I had fallen over. But I kept a bit of the china in a shoebox under my bed with some other things I used to collect; I know it sounds silly, but it made me feel safe [that] I didn't feel safe, not at home, or at school. I was always getting picked on."

Then, when she went to secondary school, she confided in a friend. "By then I used to keep bits of broken glass in my shoebox," she said.

"I told my friend at school because she kept asking what was on my arms. She wasn't happy about it, but didn't think it was a good idea to tell anyone because I'd get teased."

Miranda was scared that people would think she was like her mother, who has a history of mental health problems.

When she was 14, Miranda took an overdose of some tablets and was taken to hospital. She was thenreferred to a psychiatrist.

"It was horrible, they ask you all sorts of personal questions," she said.

"They just sit there with their forms and when you want to speak they tell you to wait a minute and keep looking at their forms.

"I was frightened of what was going to happen, and what my parents would do. Of course, I got hit when I got home."

She wished people would not judge her, and asked why self-harm is not spoken about in schools. "The teachers know it's going on but I think they are scared," she said.

She will not stop harming herself now. "It gives you a sense of release, but it's not as simple as relief because afterwards you feel embarrassed.

"I hate myself sometimes and I cant stand it when professionals say to you, 'You look so pretty; you have so much to live for'. But what else have I got?" she said.

* Name changed to protect the victim's identity. Taken from an interview with a YoungMinds specialist worker.

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