Self harm and social media

Today the Suicide Prevention Minister Jackie Doyle-Price spoke at the National Suicide Alliance Conference highlighting how we must all look at the impact of harmful suicide and self-harm content online.

Our forthcoming White Paper on this issue is aimed at considering what more can be done to address this kind o harmful content and how social media providers should step up to their responsibilities to their users.  If companies cannot behave properly, the Government will legislate.

Although I am not an Instagram user myself, I am aware how popular the site is, particularly with young people. I was pleased to see that the company has vowed to take action on the issue following the death of Molly Russell a 14 year old Instagram user who had been viewing very graphic images of self-harm on the site prior to her death.

Instagram is currently reliant upon users reporting graphic images of self-harm and so has now confirmed they will look into ways that technology could be used to help solve the problem in future, be it through image-recognition or how the photograph is tagged for searching.  A positive move and I hope other social media platforms look to follow a similar path.

The NSPCC has provided some guidelines for parents to help them spot the warning signs for self harm, click here to take a look.  If you know of a young person self-harming, suggest they give the NSPCC a call on 0808 800 5000.