Government Rewrites Legislation to Make 'Suicide Websites' Illegal; POLITICS

The Birmingham Post (England), September 18, 2008 | Go to article overview

Government Rewrites Legislation to Make 'Suicide Websites' Illegal; POLITICS


Ministers are to re-write the law on "suicide websites" to make it clear they are illegal, the Ministry of Justice said yesterday.

Websites which encourage teenagers to commit suicide or carry information on suicide techniques have been implicated in dozens of teenage deaths.

It is already illegal under the 1961 Suicide Act to promote suicide but no website operator has been prosecuted.

The Ministry of Justice said it would amend the law to make it clear it applies online and help Internet Service Providers police sites.

Justice Minister Maria Eagle said: "There is no magic solution to protecting vulnerable people online. Updating the Suicide Act, however, should help reassure people the internet is not a lawless environment and we can meet the challenges of the digital world.

"It is important, particularly in an area of such wide public interest and concern, for the law to be expressed in terms everyone can understand.

"We continue to work with the internet industry to look at long-term ways to keep people safe without jeopardising freedom of speech."

A spate of suicides in Bridgend, south Wales, prompted fears teenagers were using the web to plan killing themselves.

A study found people searching the internet for information on ways to commit suicide are more likely to come across sites encouraging it than offering help. …

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