THE rate of self-harm hospital admissions in the North-East is almost triple the rate of London, according to new figures.
The statistics, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, prompted one leading North-East mental health charity to warn of "a nightmare scenario" facing the region because of a combination of continuing economic stagnation and funding cuts in organisations which could help people who self-harm.
In the 12 months to August 2012, the North East Strategic Health Authority admitted 330 cases of self harm per 100,000 of its population (8,560 admissions in total), compared to 114 cases per 100,000 in London Strategic Health Authority (9,340).
This is similar to the previous 12 month period, when the North-East admitted 332 cases per 100,000 (8,650) and London admitted 124 admissions per 100,000 (9,670).
Some areas in the region, including Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stokcton and North Yorkshire and York, saw self-harm admissions increase while other areas - including County Durham, Darlington and Redcar and Cleveland - saw a small reduction.
Lyn Boyd, chief executive of Mental Health North-East, a charity which works with 300 organisations with an interest in mental health in the region, said: "The rates of self harm in the North-East are totally unacceptable and sadly illustrate that mental health has indeed been a 'Cinderella' service for many years in this region."
The statistics, when linked to other statistics in relation to suicide rates, unemployment, benefit changes, low wages and the recent cuts to local authorities and NHS paint a very frightening picture of the North-East today and a nightmare scenerio for the coming years.
Ms Boyd said her charity "has witnessed the loss of vital statutory and voluntary sector services in recent months and warns of many tragedies for to come if action is not taken quickly regarding problems in mental health"
She called for "urgent meetings" between government representatives with relevant organisations in the North-East "if disaster is to be averted".
Nationally, hospitals admitted 110,960 self harm cases in the 12 months to August 2012 - a 0.4 per cent increase on the previous 12 month period (110,490).
Almost nine out of ten admissions were for self-poisoning (89.4 per cent, or 99,200 admissions).
A total of 9,270 admissions were due to "narcotic and hallucinogenic drugs including cocaine, heroin and methadone".
Today's (Friday, December 7) data also shows, considering all 110,960 self harm admissions in the 12 months to August 2012, just under eight per cent (7.6 per cent, or 8,420) were for injuries caused by sharp or blunt objects, three per cent were for injuries caused by other means including hanging, drowning, jumping and firearms and nearly three in five admissions (59.3 per cent, or 65,830) were for women.