Suicide prevention charity welcomes new online safety strategy

By agency reporter
April 9, 2019

National UK charity PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide) has welcomed the proposal contained in a White Paper published jointly by the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. 

The Online Harms White Paper sets out the government’s plans for "a world-leading package of online safety measures that also supports innovation and a thriving digital economy." A 12 week consultation on the proposals has also been launched. 

The Government proposes a regulator for online content, and a new statutory ‘duty of care’ to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services.

Ged Flynn, PAPYRUS chief executive said: “I am pleased that HM Government has listened to PAPYRUS about the very real risks of young people being influenced by online content which can contribute to their suicide. This strategy might well help save the lives of some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the country.

“Suicide remains the lead killer of our young people between 10 and 35 years of age. Many young people considering suicide can far too easily access information, discussion and graphic imagery online which compound suicidal feelings or, worse, encourage suicide behaviours.

“The PAPYRUS Internet Safety campaign came to national prominence again in recent months with the tragic death and inquest of Molly Russell and her father’s determination to press social media companies to act. Ian Russell’s bravery certainly brought our concerns to the Government’s attention in a powerful way, sadly after a personal tragedy which every young suicide is. Let’s hope today’s announcements bring action, not simply more rhetoric.

“Today’s commitment by Government to set up independent regulation of the online environment and the threat of prosecution for social media companies if they do not fully demonstrate their proper duty of care to users, must be ‘a step in the right direction’. It will console worried parents and families. Moreover, it should improve suicide safety for young people in crisis.”

PAPYRUS has been campaigning for greater safety online since World Suicide Prevention Day, September 2006.  It called on the Government to follow the example set by Australia, to outlaw internet use to incite or encourage others to take their own lives, or to provide information on how to die by suicide. Until now, in the UK, threats posed by pro-suicide sites, chat rooms and parts of social media have not been taken seriously enough, says PAPYRUS.

Suicide is the main cause of death in young people under 35 in the UK. Every year in the UK over 1,600 take their own lives. PAPYRUS believes that many are preventable. The charity provides practical advice and support to young people and others concerned that a young person may be at risk of killing themselves.

* For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK tel 0800 068 41 41 text 07786 209 697 email pat@papyrus-uk.org

* Read the Online Harms White Paper here

* PAPYRUS https://papyrus-uk.org/

[Ekk/6]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.