YOUNGSTERS are self-harming and sharing pictures of their wounds on social media, according to a councillor.

Cllr David Watkins warned that soaring numbers of young people are uploading these ‘selfies’ online.

Mr Watkins, who is responsible for healthier communities at Malvern Hills District Council, blamed the phenomenon on the rising popularity of apps such as Instagram and Snapchat.

“This is both a real and weekly issue within Malvern Hills,” he said.

“These apps provide a place where young people can post images and then have others comment on them.

“They see what other people have done and it gives them validation to do the same.

“Most people are shocked but for those young people it can become competitive.”

He added that reports from local schools highlighted the prevalence of self-harming.

Cllr Watkins also said that a council campaign to raise awareness about the issue had been remarkably effective.

Malvern Hills District Council organised four workshops in schools to discuss the issue of self-harm and also initiated a drama production.

“Most significantly after watching a performance [of the play] a number of young people have subsequently disclosed that they have been self-harming,” Mr Watkins said.

“We can’t put a value on that. Frontline staff are more informed about the issues relating to self-harm and now know where and who to signpost to.

“Schools have reported that they have a better understanding of how creative projects can deal with difficult and sensitive issues which are led and directed by young people themselves.”

Cllr Watkins said the campaign had lifted the mask on self-harming.

During the workshops students spoke about the reasons that lead other youngsters to self-harm.

They identified that the main issues were; self-confidence, body image, exam pressure, family problems, bullying, low level depression, and anxiety.

The drama production organised by the council involved five teenagers and it highlighted the pressures around social media and mental health.

Some 1,355 young people saw the play at schools around the district.

A spokesman for Instagram said: "We have zero tolerance for content that encourages others to harm themselves or commit suicide on Instagram and quickly remove any content which breaks our community guidelines.

"We care deeply about keeping Instagram a safe and supportive place.

"Related hashtags may also include posts condemning suicide and self-injury and in many cases can help us identify and support those at risk through tools and partnerships with experts.”