Rise in children hospitalised for self-harm as thousands contact Childline

Help us protect children this Christmas in our Call for Help appeal

Nearly 19,000 children and young people in England and Wales were hospitalised for self-harm last year1.

This marks an increase of almost 2,400 (14%) in the past 3 years.

The worrying figures were obtained by our Freedom of Information Request (FOI) to NHS Trusts, and highlight the crisis many young people face as they struggle to cope with the pressures of modern day life.

Childline delivered over 18,471 counselling sessions about self-harm last year, making it one of the most common reasons for children and young people to reach out for support.

Our Call for Help appeal aims to make sure every young person who contact Childline receives the support they may desperately need.

Keeping children safe from self-harm

What to do if you suspect a child or young person is, or considering, self-harm

Self-harm can take lots of physical forms, including cutting, burning, bruising, scratching, poisoning and overdosing. But there are things you can do to help:

  • listen and show empathy and understanding
  • talk it over to try and discover their self-harm triggers
  • build their confidence and show they can trust you
  • help them find new ways to cope.


"Recently I've lost some people that were really close to me. When I started to self-harm it seemed to mask the emotional pain I was feeling, even if it only helped for a little while. A couple of times I've gone too far and ended up in hospital."
14-year-old boy who called Childline

There were 18,471 counselling sessions about self-harm last year

Explanation: 18,471 counselling sessions with young people who contacted Childline for support and advice on self-harm.

To find out more see our Childline annual review 2015/16: It turned out someone did care.

Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline PresidentDame Esther Rantzen, Childline President said:
"It's deeply disturbing that so many children and young people are ending up in hospital because they are injuring themselves so seriously. Self-harming is at epidemic level among young people, at Childline we hear from them every day.

"It has become one of the most common problems young people bring to us, and I know from our counsellors that these are some of the most painful stories we hear. Often the young people feel too ashamed and fearful to seek help from those around them, until they harm themselves so badly they have to be rushed to hospital.

"Childline is here for them and is free, confidential and open 24/7. It really does help to contact our counsellors who care about you and want to support you."


  1. In England and Wales 18,778 children and young people were admitted to hospital in 2015/16, compared to 16,416 in 2013/14. This is a 14% rise. Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were sent to all NHS Trusts in England and Health Boards in Wales with A&E departments in September 2016. Of the 155 that received the FOI, 6 did not respond.