Call for block on suicide internet searches

Jordan Moates considers the need to block internet suicide websites

The government should block internet searches for methods of suicide northern Ireland MP Willie McCrea has said. Mr McCrea was speaking as he introduced a 10 minute rule bill in Westminster.

Mr McCrea said the thrust of his bill was to “gain help for those who feel suicidal and are vulnerable to the influences of others. There is a need for change in public attitudes. For too long the subject has been hidden. We need openness and must do everything we can to prevent suicide”.

Speaking of the Internet Mr McCrea said many turn to it “to seek the comfort and guidance that they cannot find in their daily lives”. However, whilst the internet must be recognised as an important resource in society, we must be mindful that there are websites and chat rooms which can encourage the vulnerable

Mr McCrea has proposed that: “A gatekeeper or guardian should be in place to monitor websites having the power to forward the information onto the appropriate authorities with a view to having the website closed down.  A complaints procedure should also be in place”.

Suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS has applauded William McCrea for “highlighting the dangers of suicide”.

Chief Executive of PAPYRUS, Jed Flynn, said: “Sometimes when a young person goes onto a search engine to look for help the first thing they get is on method. We want them to go onto a search engine and get help”.

He says that internet providers suggest they are “largely the conduit through which information passes and that absolves them from responsibility of what is written”.

The charity has said it is “aware of more than fifty young suicides where the internet is believed to have played a significant part. This could only be the tip of an iceberg, with further deaths that have not been reported”.

Mr Flynn said that the likes of facebook and twitter need to be used “positively and creatively”.

Latest figures released have shown that the number of suicides in Northern Ireland has more than doubled during the period 2003 -2010. In 2003 there were 144 suicides compared to 313 in 2010.  The figures also show that males are three times more likely to take their own lives than females.

Speaking about tackling the suicide rate Mr Flynn said: “Governments can do so much but what we need to do is crack into the general public. We need to start talking about suicide, it’s not a specialist subject it’s very human”.

Full interview with Je Flynn, Chief Executive of PAPYRUS


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