selfharmThe number of children who self-harm has increased by more than 70 per cent in the past two years to record levels, according to new figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The findings showed that more than 6,500 children aged 10 to 14 had been treated after deliberately injuring themselves in the past 12 months. Of those, just under 6,000 were female, according to figures obtained by The Times.

That represents an increase of 2,700 cases (71%) on the figures for 2009 to 2012, when the numbers were stable at about 3,800 a year. The figures for teenagers aged between 15 and 19 treated for self-harm had also risen by 23%

Lucie Russell, from mental health charity YoungMinds, believes that "online culture" is a major contributory factor in the rise level of self-harm among young people.

“This has never happened before. It is the pressures of the modern world and some of these pressures are unprecedented,” she said. "Young people feel it never lets up. Online they create a brand — brand me — which says I have loads of friends and this is how I look. They feel the need for constant reassurance from others and there is no privacy any more."

Further reading: Charities tackle youth self-harm stigma

Commenting on the findings, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We want to help young people who experience a mental health problem, which is why we are spending £54m to boost their access to psychological therapies.

"We have invested £3m in a website called MindEd which supports anyone working with children to spot the signs of mental health problems as early as possible.”