We have seen in other articles that I have published on this site that, if we experienced significant childhood trauma, we are considerably more likely than the average person to suffer from anxiety, self- harm and, in the most extreme and tragic cases, suicidal behaviour (both attempted suicide and completed suicide) during our adult lives, especially if we are distressed by our past but have not undergone appropriate therapy to ameliorate our psychological suffering.
A decade ago I myself attempted suicide and spent five days in a coma in intensive care (see the ‘David’s Experiences’ section which is accessible from the main menu. I won’t bore you with the details here.
Anxiety, self-harm and suicidal behaviour are all interrelated. Our anxiety and distress may lead us to self-harm (eg by self-cutting, self-poisoning, self-biting, obsessive skin scratching, picking and tearing etc) and, of course, the ultimate form of self-harm is suicicide.
It is theorised that non- fatal self-harm is a coping mechanism we employ to distract ourselves from the intense psychological pain we feel.
Also, the act stimulates the production of endorphins (endorphins are brain chemicals, sometimes referred to as ‘natural pain killers’) in the brain which has a temporary soothing effect on our tortured psyche.
Many of us are familiar with the statistic that 1 in 4 individuals will suffer from a mental health condition in their lifetime. However, below I present the statistics specifically linked to anxiety, self-harm and suicide:
Statistics Relating To Anxiety:
4.7℅ of population anxious at any one time
9.7℅ of population are suffering from mixed anxiety/depression at any one time
1.2% suffer from panic disorder
1.9% suffer from phobias
2.3℅ suffer from agoraphobia
2.6% of men and 3.3% of women suffer from PTSD
2.5% suffer from obsessive a compulsive disorder (PTSD or Complex-PTSD – click here to read my article about the two conditions may be differentiated
3.5% suffer from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
Other Statistics Relating To Anxiety:
– 30% of all GP consultations are due to a person wishing to discuss his/her anxiety problem
– women are more likely to report being anxious than men (in part because they are more susceptible to anxiety but, also, because, in general, women are more willing to discuss their emotions than are men).
– of all age groups, those who fall into the category of 35 years to 59 years are the most prone to developing an anxiety condition
– those who are unemployed are more likely to suffer from an anxiety condition than are those in employment; this relates to the next statistic:
– those in the lowest income group are more likely to suffer from anxiety than are those in higher income groups
– nearly half of employed individuals feel stressed about their work/job
– younger people are more likely to feel anxious about their personal relationships
– older people are more likely to be anxious about illness and the prospect of approaching death
– about one quarter of anxious individuals report comfort eating (click here for help addressing this issue)
Above adapted from a survey by YouGov.
Statistics Relating To Self-Harm:
– in the UK about 1 in 250 of the population self-harm; this is one of the highest figures in the world
– however, it is far more prevalent than the above statistic suggests amongst young people. Indeed, an extremely worrying three-fold increase is self- harm cases in young people has occurred over the last decade:
– in 2002 approximately 7% of fifteen to sixteen year olds reported self-harming; however, by 2013 this figure had soared dramatically to almost triple that: 20% (figures from British Medical Journal and World Health Organisation).
– whilst this condition is treatable, sadly only about 15% of self- harmers ever seek clinical intervention.
– a person with a mental illness is 20 times more likely to self-harm than others
Statistics Relating To Suicide:
Males are over three times more likely to die by suicide than females (although females are more likely to attempt it).
In 2010 in the UK:
– 5981 people died by suicidesuicide
– of these, 4590 were male and 1391 were female
– males are most likely to commit suicide between the ages of 40 and 44
– females are most likely to commit suicide between the ages of 45 and 49
Suicide In Young People:
It is particularly tragic that every year some young people attempt or complete suicide :
15 – 19 year olds – in this age group 4 in every 100,000 died by suicide in 2010
20 – 24 year olds – in this age group 10 in every 100,000 died by suicide in 2010
These figures equate to 166 young people dying by suicide in the 15-19 year-old age group in 2010 and :
428 young people dying by suicide in the 20-24 year-old age group dying by suicide in 201
Above statistics from Samaritans.
Finally, it should be noted that these official figures are likely to be underestimates of the true rate of suicide in the UK. This is because if a person commits suicide it is not always possible to prove it together with the fact that some regard suicide as taboo and and as a source of stigma.
NB Anyone experiencing suicidal feelings should contact their primary medical professional as a matter of urgency or any other appropriate source of professional support.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)
Stop self- harm: CLICK HERE.