Work must be done to minimise the potential for seeing harmful online content beyond social media
Samaritans responds to the Health Secretary's calls on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show for social media platforms to make their channels a safer place for people who may be struggling.
Jacqui Morrissey, Assistant Director of Research and Influencing said:
“We welcome the steps that Health Secretary Matt Hancock is taking to try and ensure social media platforms are safer for users. We need to minimise the potential for seeing harmful content online, but this needs to go beyond social media, and look more broadly at the online environment. There are a multitude of websites that host harmful content, and many of these are hosted overseas.
“Research undertaken by Samaritans and the University of Bristol sought to understand how people use the internet when they are feeling suicidal. This showed that people were using the internet to discuss suicidal feelings, to search for information on suicide, to visit help sites and to look for information on method.
“Any approach to reducing harmful content online, must also recognise the importance of social media and the online environment and the positive place that it can provide for people to share their feelings, and talk about their experiences in a way that they may not feel is possible offline.
“The Government’s Internet Safety Strategy needs to ensure all organisations, including social media, but also search engine providers, news media outlets and websites have robust policies and practices in place relating to suicide and self-harm to reduce the availability of harmful content and promote sources of support.
“We also want to see an improvement in the online help available and we need a better understanding of this issue. The Government and tech companies need to be investing in the development of improved online support, as well as research to enhance our understanding of the impact of different content on users at different times.”
Anyone can contact Samaritans for FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch, where you can talk to one of our trained volunteers face to face.
Samaritans responds to more than 5 million calls for help a year.
Samaritans is a charity and it’s the public’s kind donations and more than 20,000 volunteers that mean we are always there for anyone struggling to cope. Find out how you can support us or volunteer with us.