The number of girls being hospitalized for intentionally cutting or poisoning themselves has more than doubled in Canada, according to Statistics Canada — with schools and distress centres in Calgary saying they're being inundated.
"It was sort of overwhelming the emergency departments," said Jody Primeau, who supports guidance counsellors in Calgary's Catholic school district.
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"And so they wanted to work with the schools to, a) identify the risk, and also to ensure schools were aware."
Between 2009 and 2014, the hospitalization rates for girls between the ages of 10 and 17 in Canada who intentionally self-harm more than doubled, according to a Statistics Canada report on the health of girls and women.
Spike in Calgary
The Calgary Distress Centre saw a spike in the number of kids reporting self-harm late last year, says Vanessa de Souza, coordinator of the centre's "ConnecTeen" youth line.
"But that also co-exists with other mental health issues. So things like anxiety, mental health, depression were also on the rise," she said.
"Sometimes when people are struggling, they may use that as coping and if they're that young and they haven't really learned any other coping skills, then they may tend to use self-harm as a way of dealing with things."
According to the Statistics Canada report, poisoning and cutting are the most common methods of self-harm.
A changing society could be one of the reasons for the increase, says Raechelle Paperny, a registered psychologist at Juno House in Calgary.
"There's so much more technology and disconnect," she said. "Because we know one of the best ways to soothe ourselves when we're feeling overwhelmed is really connecting face-to-face, and our world has really moved away from that."
Schools now have one person designated to handle students who may be self-harming and they are set to get more training next month, Primeau says
The Calgary Catholic and public school systems, as well as Rockyview schools have adopted protocols on how to deal with the issue of self-harm.