FEARS that parents are being kept in the dark surfaced this week, as self-harming was highlighted among local girls as young as 12.
One alarmed mum who contacted the Journal and Gazette this week estimated at least 10 S1 pupils and 10 S2 pupils at Linlithgow Academy were cutting themselves with blades and starving themselves, before posting pictures online to show what they had done.
The parent, who did not want to be identified, said: “My child isn’t doing what many of her friends are - self harming and starving themselves – but she is making herself ill about it.
“I’ve had to take her phone off her as she gets texts from friends telling her what they’re doing to themselves, saying what they’ve used and where they’ve been cutting.
‘‘She shouldn’t have to worry about her friends if they don’t turn up at school, and hope they haven’t gone too far.
‘‘One girl wrote ‘HATE’ across her stomach and others have swollen and infected arms, covered up under their school clothes.
“It started with just one person and now there are 10 in first year. What if they go too far?
‘‘They are not aware of the implications of this. Everybody may be doing it but five years down the line they will be covered in scars.
“They’re posting their pictures online and there’s competition to see how far they will go.
‘‘It’s become fashionable but someone could seriously hurt themselves or become ill due to not eating. I’m just at the end of my tether with all of this.”
Online photo-sharing sites are being used by pupils, displaying the blades being used, youngsters slashing themselves, and support for those taking part.
On contacting Linlithgow Academy, the parent contact was told the school was fully aware of the situation but she remains concerned.
She added: “If my child hadn’t told me about what was going on then I wouldn’t know anything about it.
‘‘What if she was doing it and I didn’t know?
‘‘I’m not wanting to cause trouble for the school but I feel that parents should be made aware of what is going on. A letter or email isn’t hard to send out after all.”
YoungMinds is the UK’s leading children and young people’s mental health charity, and recent research has found that self harm inpatient admissions have increased by 68 per cent over the last decade, with over three-quarters of young people not knowing where to go to talk about self harm.
A charity spokeswoman quashed the belief that self harm is purely about getting attention, saying: “This is a myth. People are in tremendous pain to be doing these things - it is a cry for help.
“It’s important to talk about it and for it not to be in the dark. This way, young people can receive help and advice.”
Parents can contact YoungMinds free on 0808 802 5544, email email@example.com or chat online at www.youngminds.org.uk to a trained adviser.
This week a West Lothian Council spokesman, speaking on behalf of Linlithgow Academy, said: “West Lothian schools will offer support to any pupil who is identified as having issues with self harming.
‘‘A recent academic survey suggested 14 per cent of Scottish young people have self harmed.
“Help is available for pupils and their families to try and address the underlying issues that lead to self harming.”