Press release: Samaritans’ comment on suicide and the internet published in The Lancet

Clare Wyllie, Head of Policy and Research at Samaritans, comments on PILOTS OF THE FUTURE: SUICIDE AND THE INTERNET

“It is inevitable that, as the online environment becomes ever more intertwined in our daily lives, it will play a role in suicidal behaviour, for good and for bad. On the one hand, the internet creates new risks and challenges for suicide prevention, while, on the other hand, it also creates new possibilities for reaching vulnerable people.

“Samaritans has therefore begun to look at ways in which the internet and new technology can be used to reduce suicide. The first steps are the Google ‘OneBox’ and the work we are doing with social networking sites to educate users on what to do if they are worried about someone within the online community.

“But we simply do not know enough. The evidence in this area is very limited. We still remain largely unaware of how people with suicidal thoughts use the internet, and what is helpful and what is destructive in online spaces”.

“That is why we are calling for the research community to help us study the issue of suicide and the online environment. With this information we will not only know how to better manage the risks the internet poses but also know how to harness the power of the internet to help distressed people.”

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Notes to editors

For more information please contact Sal Lalji, Media Manager, on press@samaritans.org or call 020 8394 8342. Out of hours press phone: 07943 809162

For people experiencing emotional distress and struggling to cope, our volunteers are there 24/7 to offer confidential, non-judgmental support to anyone experiencing emotional distress and suicidal feelings, by phone: 08457 90 90 90 (ROI) 1850 60 9090, email: jo@samaritans.org, or face-to-face: visit samaritans.org/ for details of your local branch.