Friday, August 1, 2008

Ministry of Justice in the UK seek to curb internet suicide sites

The Ministry of Justice in the UK is proposing to block websites that encourage vulnerable teenagers to commit suicides.

The article in The Independent states that dozens of suicides have been linked to internet chatrooms. At least 30 suicides have been identified in which the internet was a significant contributor to the act.

The article states:
"They are urging internet service providers (ISPs) to veto "harmful and distasteful" suicide sites, and to provide automatic links to such organisations as the Samaritans or ChildLine when users try to find information on suicide. ISPs already warn website managers that "offensive" material will be automatically taken down from the internet."
The Ministry of Justice believes more must be done and is examining whether the legislation controlling assisted suicide websites is strong enough.

The article also states that:
"The Department of Health (DoH) said there were practical problems in policing the constantly changing World Wide Web, but the Government was determined to force ISPs to shut down irresponsible sites."
The suicide prevention strategy in the UK has proven to be successful. The suicide rate has fallen (2005 - 2007) to 8.3 deaths per 100,000 persons from 8.5 deaths per 100,000 persons in the three previous years. The government has set a target of reducing suicide rates by 20% to 7.3 deaths per 100,000 persons by (2009 - 2011).

The department of health is quoted to state:
"We are pleased that the levels of suicide are coming down but we need to be alert to the possible dangers of the internet. ... The work is at an early stage but we are determined to find ways of protecting people at risk."
All of the wealthy nations of the world need to follow the lead of the British by blocking suicide promoting websites.

The Japanese, who have a suicide epidemic, have also moved to block suicide promoting websites and the Australian government passed a law making it a crime to aid, abet or counsel suicide via the internet or other communications methods.

The article:

Previous articles:

Japanese suicide epidemic:

1 comment:

Blaise Alleyne said...

Are they actually going after the owners of these websites? If not, getting ISPs to block the content will just make the perpetrators harder to find.

Wouldn't taking the sites down at the ISP level make it harder to convict those responsible?

There are easy ways to get around just blocks, to create new sites. This is a game of whack-a-mole.