PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, the national charity dedicated to preventing young suicides in the UK, welcomes the announcement by Google and Microsoft that new software is being introduced on search engines to block access to child abuse websites, but says it must also include suicide sites.
“We seek assurance that the advances in technology announced will also be used to block access to sites promoting, advocating and assisting suicide,” said Martyn Piper, vice chairman of PAPYRUS and lead in the charity's internet safety campaign. “These sites can and do lead directly to the deaths of vulnerable young people and must be treated with at least the same urgency as the child abuse sites.
“We have always contended that technology could be used to block access to harmful sites without preventing access to online help for those contemplating suicide.”
PAPYRUS has relentlessly campaigned for greater awareness of the dangers of online promotion of suicide and has consistently lobbied the government and the internet industry to implement effective controls in this area.
Many PAPYRUS members have direct knowledge of their children's exposure to suicide websites and chatrooms and believe that the technical information and/or encouragement received played a significant role in their son or daughter's suicide. Coroners have frequently expressed concern at the role of the internet.
“As a charity working to prevent suicide in young people we believe that there is no place for such sites and forums,” added Martyn Piper. “At the very least they must be brought within the regulatory processes seeking to tackle other internet dangers, such as sexualisation of children and pornography that this new initiative by Microsoft and Google addresses."