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Self-harming among armed forces up by a third

The number of armed forces personnel deliberately self-harming has jumped by more than a third over a five-year period.

Figures released by the Ministry of Defence revealed a 36% increase in servicemen and women who self-harmed at least once between 2010/11 and 2014/15.

There were 383 recordings of deliberate self-harming (DSH) - including self-injury and self-poisoning - for Navy, Army and RAF personnel in 2014/15, up from 339 in 2010/11.

The data excludes servicemen and women who had thoughts of DSH or suicide.

Women, Army personnel and those aged under 24 were most at risk, the figures suggested.

Those aged under 20 were around 10 times more likely to self-harm than those aged 45 and over, while women were around twice as likely as men to be at risk.

The MoD said the risk groups in the armed forces were in line with those in the general population.

Improved methods of capturing DSH data could have attributed to the reported rise in incidents, the MoD added.

The data included regular armed forces personnel, mobilised reservists, full-time reservists and non-regular permanent staff alongside trained and untrained personnel.

An MoD spokesman said: "Overall we have seen that those in the military have a lower prevalence of self-harm than the general population, and today's stats show that the groups at risk are broadly the same whether in the armed forces or elsewhere.

"Through our many anti-stigma efforts, including the 'Don't Bottle It Up' campaign, we encourage anyone with a mental health problem to come forward and get the support they deserve."

Military personnel have a "decompression period" after deployment where they can "begin to mentally and physically unwind" and talk about their experiences, the spokesman said.

He added: "No system can guarantee to detect every individual at risk of mental disorder. Nevertheless, measures are in place to increase awareness at all levels."

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