Vulnerable child
An Australian report has found children as young as three are self-harmingGetty Images

Children as young as three are deliberately harming themselves, with 8,227 admitted to hospital in Australia in the past five years for self-harm related injuries, according to an Australian report.

The alarming report from the 2014 Australian Children's Commissioner, also shows five Australian children aged between four to 11 have died from intentional self-harm in the past five years.

The Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell said that she had been prompted to compile the report because of the lack of data on self-harm in children.

"I really focused on children under 18 in this study to find out what's happening and find out how to support them better. What that is telling me is that we need to be getting in much earlier in working with children to build their resilience, identifying risk factors and encouraging help seeking."

The report showed were over 18,000 hospitalisations in Australia for self-harm among people aged between three and 17, with 82% of the cases resulting from self-poisoning.

The study revealed some marked differences between genders, as boys were far more likely than girls to commit suicide than girls.

Boys were also significantly less likely to seek help when experiencing hardships, but were more likely to speak with someone over the phone, rather than the internet.

"We really need to mount that really strong research agenda in order to intervene at the right time and provide the right supports to kids that we know will work for them," Mitchell added.

She called for more detailed surveillance of self-harm and suicide among the age groups in the study.