Samaritan’s comment regarding the recent suicide pact in Braintree, Essex and the role of the internet

Catherine Johnstone, Chief Executive of Samaritans, said:

“The internet can be a place to find friendship and like-minded people to chat to, but sometimes it can also be harmful, as seen in these tragic suicides. A distressed person can meet another person online and, instead of finding help and support, they end up encouraging each other to do something they might not have done alone.

“It is illegal to encourage or assist people to take their own lives – be it on the internet or in any other space – but it is unclear how this recently-amended legislation will be applied and policed. In the meantime, what we are doing is making sure that Samaritans’ website is one of the search engine results when a person looks for suicide-related information online, so that the option is there for them to seek help.

“We are also working with social networking sites, such as Facebook, to help them and their users offer support to people in distress. This includes a Samaritans Facebook page where people can watch videos explaining the support we provide and keep themselves informed about our latest campaigns, as well as find contact details to get in touch directly. Google provide free advertising to Samaritans when people search for information about suicide, to help people deal with these difficult issues.

“We at Samaritans know that sometimes people can feel as though life just doesn’t seem worth living and it can become impossible for them to imagine their situation getting any better.  We must remind people though, that terrible times can and do pass.

“It is very important for you to talk about your problems to friends, family, your GP or a helpline like Samaritans. Talking to the right person can help you find relief from your troubles and hope for the future.

“You can call Samaritans’ helpline about absolutely anything, even your deepest, darkest secrets and fears – things you may never have told anyone else. We won’t betray your confidence, and we won’t be shocked by what you have to say.

“We urge anyone in distress to contact us 24/7 for confidential, non-judgemental support by phone 116 123, email or visit a Samaritans local branch, see for details.”

Samaritans' Head of Communications, Nicola Peckett said:

“We are calling for online spaces that enable conversation about suicide to be appropriately moderated. We welcome the opportunity to meet with all UK based forum providers to talk about the training we offer to moderators and the best way to protect their vulnerable users who are at risk of suicide. We have already been working with Facebook to help them improve their online support by alerting their users to sources of help and educating them on signs to look out for when they have concerns about others.”


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