Monday, August 18, 2014

Suicide promotion websites should be policed with the same vigour as pornography websites.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article written by E Jane Dickson and published in the UK Independent newspaper on Friday August 15 argues that Pro-suicide sites aimed at teenagers should be policed in the same way as online pornography and violence.

Dickson writes:
The mushrooming, in the unregulated waste of the internet, of pro-suicide sites, many of them aimed at teenagers, is a long way from Neverland. This week, Martyn Piper, head of internet safety campaigns at Papyrus, a charity for the prevention of young suicides, called for tighter Government control over websites which he considers “the greatest risk to young people online today”. Piper’s son, Tim, killed himself at the age of 16 after consulting and following instructions on such a site. 
Some 700 under-25s take their own lives each year in the UK. We cannot guess what goes through their minds – this must be their parents’ daily torment – but we can assume that a “how to” manual is not what they need at their lowest ebb. Pro-suicide sites range from the baldly functional to pseudo-literary blogs wallowing in death’s dark glamour.
Dickson  reminded her readers that in 2008, Maria Eagle, Justice Minister at that time, promised to crackdown on suicide websites.

In 2010, the assisted suicide law in the UK was updated whereby the language of the assisted suicide act was changed from the crime of aiding, abetting, counseling or procuring a suicide to the crime of encouraging or assisting a suicide.

Dickson suggests that the current assisted suicide law in the UK does not effectively protect vulnerable young people:
mentally unbalanced youngsters are falling prey in their hundreds to anonymous promptings from their laptop. At the very least, pro-suicide sites aimed at teenagers should be policed with the same vigour as online pornography and violence.

Dickson ends her article by stating:
We want to believe Marilyn Monroe’s assurance that: “When you’re young and healthy, you can plan on Monday to commit suicide, and by Wednesday you’re laughing again.” It didn’t work for Marilyn. And it’s not a risk we can take.
I agree with Dickson that society needs to protect young people from suicide promotion sites, but it is a form of discrimination to not equally be concerned for people with disabilities, who live with discrimination, the frail elderly, who are living with elder abuse and the average person who is living with depression.

Everyone, including the troubled teen, can be victims of suicide promotion websites. Everyone, including depressed terminally ill people deserve to be protected from suicide promotion websites.

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