Self-harm in over-65s ‘needs post-pandemic focus’

A leading expert has said that more needs to be done in raising awareness and providing the right support to older adults in preventing them from developing mental ill health.

With data coming through a variety of organisations. Self-harm particularly among the over-65s is rising because of the increased risks associated with the pandemic.

Loneliness, bereavement, stigma and reluctance and or difficulties to access GPs are some of the causes in older people not reaching out to get help. 

If early intervention isn’t obtained to explore the underpinning cause to self-harm behaviour the person is at higher risk to later suicide attempts.

Figures from NHS Digital show that Over-65s are hospitalised more than 5,000 times a year in England because of self-harm and self-poisoning,

The self-harm organisation Harmless, which supports individuals ranging from young children to those in their 80s, describes over-65s as a “forgotten” group.
It said there was a stigma around self-harm that can prevent individuals from seeking support – including from family and friends.

A study carried out by NICE, found that over-65s who hurt themselves were about 150 times more likely to die by suicide than adults who hadn’t – and that was about three times higher than young people who hurt themselves.

How to help someone who is self-harming

Give individuals space to talk, without being judgemental

Encourage them to find support through GPs, charities and online peer support groups

Understand that other factors that may be contributing to their self-harm and help them seek advice

Be there for them as a friend. Do things you enjoy, such as going for a walk together