Pieta House CEO: 'Self-harm trend #cutforZayn was a scary issue'
The head of Ireland’s suicide prevention charity Pieta House has described trend of self-harm among distressed One Direction fans as “scary”.
CEO Brian Higgins said self-harming began to “trend” among some fans on Twitter when singer Zayn Malik announced he was leaving the boy band on March 25.
The singer said he wanted the chance to be "a normal 22-year-old".
Shortly afterwards, pictures emerged on social media from fans who appeared to have harmed themselves and were asking others to do so.
"#CutforZayne was a “scary” example of how fans used self-harming to try and pressurise the singer to return to the group," Mr Higgins told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke.
“Young people were nominating each other to self-harm and were posting photgraphs of the ‘cutforZayne’,” he said.
Mr Higgins said it was “scary” to think that people would “put pressure on a 22-year-old to say ‘the more we cut, he’ll come back to One Direction’.”
Malik's departure rocked the pop world and led to a mass outpouring of grief from the band's young fans.
“It’s a scary issue,” Mr Higgins said, but he added: “It was interesting how many people who said ‘this isn’t on’.”
Pieta House is organising its annual charity fundraiser Darkness Into Light. The event takes place on May 9 at 4.15am and it is hoped that 100,000 people will take place in the annual five-kilometre walk/run which generates a third of the charity’s funding each year.
“Last year, we had 80,000 people. The fee until Friday to do Darkness Into Light is €20; then after that it’s €25,” Mr Higgins said.