Danish youth set record in self-harm

Some 21.5 percent of Danish youth aged 15-19 have harmed themselves at some point

Denmark has one of the highest rates of reported cases of youths harming themselves in the EU, according to a new report by the Center for Suicide Research.

The report – which is based on survey results over ten years from 2001-2011 – showed that 21.5 percent of Danish youth aged 15-19 had harmed themselves at some point, while 16.2 percent had harmed themselves within the last year. The EU average, in comparison, was 5.8 percent.

”It's difficult to compare the numbers because there is a difference in who you ask and which survey you use, but I interpret the material as Denmark having a high number of incidences,” Anelli Sandbæk, a professor at the Institute of Public Health, told Metroxpress newspaper.

The report showed the problem is on the rise in Denmark as the number of youths who have harmed themselves has constantly increased every year since 2001.

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Divorce and social media
Steen Andersen, the secretary general at the national eating disorder and self-harm association Landsforeningen mod spiseforstyrrelser og selvskade, contends that the high rate of self-harm instances shows young Danes are not doing too well psychologically.

”We are under the impression there is a lack of knowledge and information about self-harm in Denmark and many teachers and parents don't know how to handle it,” Andersen said.

”Many other nations have a national action plan concerning the issue and we believe we should have one in Denmark too.”

Lillian Zøllner, the head of the Center for Suicide Research and the author of the report, indicated that some of the reasons behind the rising rate of self-harm includes the high Danish divorce rate and the increasing role that social media plays in the lives of the youth.