Self-harm and suicide content online can be harmful for some people.
The internet can be an invaluable resource for individuals experiencing self-harm and suicidal feelings. It provides opportunities to access information, find options for support and provides a platform to speak openly about difficult feelings that can be hard to discuss face to face. However, it can also carry potential risks by presenting opportunities to access graphic content, details around methods of harm and content that glorifies or promotes self-harm and suicide. Access to such content can be distressing, triggering and may act to encourage, maintain or exacerbate self-harm and suicidal behaviours.
Every suicide is complex, and the evidence is mixed. For some people looking at this content can increase their risk of suicide or self-harm. But for other people looking at or sharing this content can in fact help them. And we know many people use the internet to access help and support. Find out more from our research with the University of Bristol
It is vital that sites and platforms hosting user-generated content take action to reduce the accessibility of potentially harmful self-harm and suicide content and put mechanisms in place to maximise support opportunities for vulnerable users.
We have developed ten principles for sites and platforms that host user-generated content. These cover topics such as developing a suicide and self-harm policy, responding to users in distress and supporting staff who encounter harmful content. You can see them here
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