Suicide Sites Warning

Daily Mail (London), April 11, 2008 | Go to article overview

Suicide Sites Warning


Byline: Jenny Hope

TEENAGERS are just 'two clicks' away from finding help to commit suicideon the internet, warn doctors.

Websites promoting suicide are easier and quicker to access than those whichaim to prevent it, according to research.

In the first study of its kind, a quick web search found half of 'hits' broughtup details on methods of committing suicide while one in five were for'dedicated suicide sites'.

There has been growing concern about the proliferation of suicide sites, withsome claiming to have facilitated suicide pacts among strangers who met andplanned their deaths on the internet. Controversy followed a series of suicidesby teenagers and young adults in Bridgend, South Wales, many of whom usednetworking sites, despite a lack of police evidence of internet involvement.

Suicide sites are not illegal in Britain, unlike Australia, althoughcampaigners argue they have been a factor in at least 30 cases of youngsuicides in the UK in the past six years. The latest study by five doctors andepidemiologists at universities in Bristol, Manchester and Oxford is publishedtoday in the British Medical Journal.

Professor David Gunnell, professor of epidemiology at Bristol University'sdepartment of social medicine, said the internet made it simple for youngstersseeking information about suicide.

He said: 'We were surprised by the frequency with which the same pro-suicidesites came up across four search engines and the evaluation of methodsprovided. There was detailed information about speed, certainty and the likelyamount of pain associated with a method.

'It would only take a couple of clicks to get to these sites once you've putsimple words into the search.' The research team searched the internet last Mayfor sites providing instructions and information on methods of suicide. …

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