Zayn Malik
Shocked fans have been taking extreme action on hearing news that Zayn Malik has quit One Direction.Ian Gavan/Getty

Following the shock announcement by Zayn Malik that he is to leave One Direction, distraught fans of the teen heart-throb have been taking to social media to express their distress at the news.

However, concerns are growing for some of the more vulnerable fans, after several people posted images of self-harm in reaction to the news.

One fan appeared to have cut the words 'I love Zayn Malik' into her arm causing other fans to react in shock.

Another wrote: "Just heard the news about @zaynmalik RIP you will be missed by many including me! Dunno how I'm going to cope #cutforzayn"

The deeply disturbing hashtag #cutforzayn began to trend, prompting other social media users to quickly admonish heartbroken fans, warning them not to take such extreme action.

"This #cut4zayn thing needs to stop. You doing that does nothing but harm yourself. Love yourself...and let people live their lives...please," wrote one concerned fan.

"I've just seen a tweet saying #CutForZayn, do people not understand how big of an issue self harm is?" said another.

"#CutforZayn is one of the most horrific things I've ever come across."

"#cutforzayn DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN THIS! SELF HARM IS NOT A JOKE NOR IS IT FOR ANY TREND ON TWITTER. DO NOT DO THIS. HAVE SOME RESPECT."

Malik earlier issued a statement explaining to fans that he was leaving the band, as he "wants to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight."

His band mates, who are currently in South Asia with the On The Road Again world tour, expressed their support for Malik saying: "We're really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future."

Maximum Pop offered words of advice for distraught fans struggling to cope with the news, advising them of ways to express their feelings safely.

Selfharm.co.uk is an organisation providing support and advice for anyone struggling with self-harm.

The Samaritans provides a free support service for those who need to talk to someone. It can be contacted through its website or on 08457 90 90 90, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call charges apply.