Government threaten ISPs over suicide websites
11th September 2012 |
See article from
Telcos face being regulated by the government if they fail to block websites offering advice on suicide, the health minister Norman Lamb has warned. He said that one of the areas of concern was the lack of awareness about websites offering guidance on
This week, the government has launched a campaign in England to help prevent people from committing suicide, especially those considered to be in at-risk groups. The Department of Health said that it wanted to work:
with the media, and with the internet industry through members of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to help parents ensure their children are not accessing harmful suicide-related websites, and to increase the
availability and take-up of effective parental controls to reduce access to harmful websites.
The Sunday Times reported that Lamb had bluntly noted ahead of today's strategy that regulation would follow if internet service providers
did not step in to offer protection. He said:
These horrific suicide websites are just one example of the dangerous and disturbing online content which, without proper controls, our children can access almost at any
The Register contacted broadband industry lobby group ISPA, which said:
A previous government review found that the law on encouraging suicide was fit for purpose for the digital age. ISPs
will remove content they host that is illegal once notified, but are not always best placed to judge on whether content is illegal or not.
||31st August 2012 |
Campaigners condemn suicide websites that provide information about best methods, seemingly conflating 'providing information' with 'incitement'
article from dailymail.co.uk
|18th July |
In the absence of any official interest, UK ISPs are told to censor suicide websites
See article from
Websites that encourage people to commit suicide or make death pacts with strangers must be closed down, ministers will insist this week.
In the absence of any official organisation to monitor such websites, ISPs are to be told they have an obligation
to shut down these chatrooms and forums, as part of the Government's suicide prevention strategy.
Promoting suicide is already outlawed under the 1961 Suicide Act, but this has never been used to prosecute a website operator. Officials say the
law does not apply only to face-to-face meetings, and should be enforced more rigorously if companies fail to shut down offending websites.
Health Minister Paul Burstow said:
One of the nastier sides of
social media is the emergence of websites which are almost coaching people into how to commit suicide and offering the possibility of pacts with other people to commit suicide -- really evil stuff.
Websites begin in a
therapeutic way - I think because the people who run them think it's a place for people to share how they feel when they are very low and don't have much hope in life.
Then they move from being therapeutic to being
supportive, a friend network. But the end result is it becomes a closed circle... nobody on those websites is going to confess to anybody outside.
It becomes a depressive circle of people talking about all types of
things, which give them knowledge - because the sites give you various ways of taking life if that is the decision you chose - and friendship with people thinking the same way.
They use all kinds of words like
'Catching the bus or Making the journey - slang words - other people might not understand.'
|24th September |
Double suicide linked to encouragement on internet forum
article from dailymail.co.uk
Users of a website who helped a stranger couple commit suicide have been warned they face up to 14 years in jail.
Joanne Lee and truck driver Steve Lumb were found dead in a Vauxhall Astra parked alongside an area of overgrown wasteland on an
industrial estate. They had gassed themselves after meeting just hours earlier after making contact on the internet.
It has emerged that Miss Lee, who used the user name Heaven's Little Girl, received advice and encouragement on a German hosted
internet forum in the days leading up to her death.
Cyber friends had given her tips on how to successfully kill herself and expressed their sorrow that she had failed to end her life on previous suicide attempts.
Miss Lee had
written: I haven't the strength to do this alone. I have all the ingredients and want to do it ASAP. You should... be willing to pick me up when it is time to (kill myself). If you are "very" serious, please email me .
the advert Lumb then drove 200 miles to Braintree, Essex, and shortly after the pair were dead.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed that anyone who promotes or encourages suicide on a website could face prosecution and jail. She added
that even if no suicide attempts take place as a result of the information, the author could still be found guilty of an offence.
The law was amended last year to deal with cases such as these. It reads:
Under section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 (as amended by section 59 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009) it is an offence to do an act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person with the intention to so encourage or assist.
The person committing the offence need not know the other person or even be able to identify them.
Brooks Newmark, Conservative MP for Braintree, Essex, said: We need to do far more to deal with these suicide
websites which unfortunately lead to tragedies like this. It's not a question of more regulation but of better regulation and also figuring out how we can close down websites such as these.
|19th January |
Websites encouraging suicide made illegal under the Justice Coronary Bill
article from publications.parliament.uk
The Government have included a clause in the Coroners And Justice Bill to extend the crime of encouraging suicide to websites and internet messaging services etc.
Part 2- Criminal Offences
Encouraging or assisting suicide: England and Wales
It provides that a person will commit an offence if he or she does an act which is capable of encouraging or assisting another person to commit or attempt to
commit suicide, and if he or she intends the act to encourage another person to commit or attempt to commit suicide.
The person committing the offence need not know, or even be able to identify, the other person. So,
for example, the author of a website promoting suicide who intends that one or more of his or her readers will commit or attempt to commit suicide is guilty of an offence, even though he or she may never know the identity of those who access the website.
Clause 48 and Schedule 10: Encouraging or assisting suicide: providers of information society services
Ensures that providers of information society services who are established in England, Wales or Northern Ireland are covered by
the offence of encouraging or assisting suicide even when they are operating in other European Economic Area states.
Paragraphs 4 to 6 of the Schedule provide exemptions for internet service providers from the offence
in limited circumstances, such as where they are acting as mere conduits for information that is capable, and provided with the intention, of encouraging or assisting suicide or are storing it as caches or hosts.
And Justice Bill also reinforces the general internet position that laws apply to a person or company that is established within the jurisdiction of the law even if the website or service is operated from elsewhere. Eg if British residents
use foreign internet services or web hosting they are still liable to UK law.
|19th November |
Billy Suicide creator justifies his game
article from eurogamer.net
Billy Suicide Game
See also The Samaritans
Dave Lasala, creator of controversial Flash game Billy Suicide , has hit back at organisations campaigning for its removal from the internet.
His comments come after The Telegraph contacted the Samaritans and PAPYRUS (Prevention of
Young Suicide), and printed responses claiming the game was both irresponsible and a catalyst to influence the behaviour of people who are already vulnerable to suicide.
I wanted the game Billy Suicide to be an exaggerated
self-portrait, Dave Lasala explained to Eurogamer. I also wanted to use it to look at a difficult subject with a sense of humour. I feel I have some authority on the subject, having rescued two brothers from suicide attempts.
Anyway, it seems to me that people blame violent art, angry music and horror movies for negative behaviour because it's easier to reduce complex issues down to a neat one-sentence solution, like, 'If there were no violent movies there would be no violence.
I would encourage everyone to check out the Oscar-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine for an in-depth examination of this behaviour. That being said, the object of the game Billy Suicide is to keep him alive.
|15th November |
Politicians clamour for website take downs, this time suicide related
Westminster debate transcript from theyworkforyou.com
Billy Suicide Game
See also The Samaritans
Internet and Video Games
Westminster Hall debates
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Madeleine Moon (PPS (Rt Hon Jim Knight, Minister of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Bridgend,
This week, I was sent an online game to look at. The online game is called Billy Suicide. Players of the game are encouraged to stop Billy shooting himself in the head. They are encouraged to keep Billy
active—to move him around the room or get him to play his guitar—and to monitor his depression, get him a cup of coffee and do things to stop him taking his life. When people playing the game do not do that, he shoots himself in the head. Someone has
said to me, Well, it's just the same as the tamagotchi games. In those games, if someone does not look after their pet, it gets fleas and dies.
What sort of society do we want? What sort of society are we promulgating? I would welcome the
censorship of that online game. We must set limits and boundaries when we bring up our children. As a society, we set limits and boundaries on individual behaviour. We must start setting limits and boundaries in the online world and in cyberspace. If we
do not, we will give our youngsters access to information and standards that, in fact, destroy the limits and values we set in the real world. As we know, sometimes our young people spend more time interacting in the online, unreal world than they do in
the real world.
I am worried about the role that these sites play in relation to social contagion, which is where access to information about suicide—the normalisation of suicide and its social acceptability—makes it more likely that others will
seek to take their own lives. We must take responsibility for the distress to the families and friends I have mentioned. We must also take responsibility for prolonging the grief of those families and friends, because that adds to the risk that a member
of that family will take their own life.
The Press Complaints Commission is making progress on the matter, but I agree that an industry body is needed. It is imperative that we have an 0800 number that someone can ring to get a site taken down
quickly. That is something I hope will come out of Lord Carter's review. My constituent had been trying to get a site taken down for two months before she came to me—two months with no action. We cannot allow such behaviour to continue. It is too complex
to track down the person in these agencies who will allow change to happen. The public need to be able to send through their comments quickly.
I have highlighted the impact of the industry on just one small community in one small area. That
impact has been devastating and has blighted the lives of many people. I am so grateful that the Committee has taken the opportunity to make these recommendations, and I hope that steps will be taken across Government to improve a totally unacceptable
unregulated state of affairs.
|13th November |
Suicide charities condemn flash animation game
article from metro.co.uk
See Billy Suicide Game
See also The Samaritans
Suicide charities have condemned an internet flash animation game in which players have to keep a depressed man from killing himself.
In Billy Suicide , players give a young man caffeine, alcohol and drugs to keep him happy.
He is also boosted by watching TV, internet porn and listening to heavy metal. But if his mental health drops, he kills himself using methods ranging from hanging to a shot to the head.
The calls follow the death by hanging on Monday
of mother-of-one Lisa Dalton in Bridgend. The 25-year-old, who was battling anorexia, was the 24th suicide victim in the area in two years.
Suicide is not a light-hearted subject, said
The Samaritans : Types of suicide portrayal can act as a catalyst.
A spokesman for Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide) called the game irresponsible, adding: Vulnerable young people can be influenced by online content.
|18th September |
Government to rewrite 1961 Suicide Act
Based on article from news.bbc.co.uk
The law on pro-suicide websites is to be 'rewritten' to ensure people know that such are illegal, the government has said.
It follows findings that people searching for information on suicide are more likely to find sites encouraging the act than
It is illegal under the 1961 Suicide Act to promote suicide, but no website operator has been prosecuted. The law will be amended to make clear it applies online and to help service providers police the sites they host.
Justice Minister Maria Eagle said there was no "magic solution" to protecting vulnerable people online:
Updating the language of the Suicide Act, however, should help to reassure people that the internet is not a lawless environment and that we can meet the challenges of the digital world. It is important, particularly in an area of such wide public
interest and concern, for the law to be expressed in terms that everyone can understand.
Ms Eagle said she hoped the changes would be in force by next year but warned there are "inherent difficulties" with policing "suicide
websites" as most are based overseas.
|1st August |
Even more censorship from a government committing electoral censorship
Based on article from
Websites which encourage teenagers to commit suicide will be blocked under Government plans.
The measures are supposedly aimed at preventing a repeat of the dozens of copycat suicides linked to internet usage and social networking sites.
Internet service providers (ISP) are being urged to veto websites which promote suicide among young people, some of which even give advice on suicide methods.
The ISPs are being told to provide automatic links to support organisations like ChildLine and The Samaritans, which would be triggered by users searching for information on suicide.
The Ministry of Justice is examining whether more
legislation is needed to control assisted suicide websites.
Under laws introduced in 1961 aiding or encouraging suicide is illegal - but only if the offender meets the victim face to face.
|20th June |
Why do the government claim all their draconian laws are just closing 'loopholes'?
See full article from the
Websites that encourage people to commit suicide could be shut down under changes to the law. The sites offer users tips on taking their own life and have been linked to around 27 deaths in Britain over the last six years.
The Government is
considering closing a legal 'loophole' to outlaw the advice. Under laws introduced in 1961 aiding or encouraging suicide is illegal - but only if the offender met the victim face to face.
Madeleine Moon, MP for Bridgend in south Wales where a
number of the 20 recent suicides are believed to have involved suicide sites and chatrooms, said: These sites can only be described as truly evil. The law needs to be changed. These websites are horrendous. They push and push people to kill themselves
and tell them how to do it.
Vernon Coaker, the Home Office minister, told a committee of MPs that the Government was determined to act: Aiding and abetting suicide, online or offline, is illegal. Something should be done about it and they
should be taken down .
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: There are difficulties as many of them are based overseas, but we're considering whether the law can be strengthened.
|11th April |
Internet suicide searches turn up encouragement above discouragement
See full article from the
People searching the web for information on suicide are more likely to find sites encouraging the act than offering support, a study says.
Researchers used four search engines to look for suicide-related sites, the British Medical Journal
The three most frequently occurring sites were all pro-suicide, prompting researchers to call for anti-suicide web pages to be prioritised.
Unlike in some countries, pro-suicides sites are not banned in the UK. The 1961 Suicide Act
says it is illegal to aid, abet, counsel, procure or incite someone to commit suicide. But to be successfully prosecuted the individual has to have knowledge and participated in the suicide.
The researchers, from Bristol, Oxford and Manchester
universities, typed in 12 simple suicide-related search terms into the internet engines. They analysed the first 10 sites in each search, giving a total of 480 hits. Altogether 240 different sites were found. A fifth were dedicated suicides sites, while
a further tenth were sites that gave factual or jokey information about suicide. Meanwhile, 13% of sites were focused on suicide prevention while another 12% actively discouraged it.
Lead research Lucy Biddle said that because of the law,
self-regulation by internet providers and the use of filtering software by parents were the main methods used to try and prevent use of pro-suicide sites. But she added: This research shows it is very easy to obtain detailed technical information
about methods of suicide.
She said internet service providers could pursue strategies that would maximise the likelihood that sites aimed at preventing suicide are sourced first.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health
charity Sane, agreed something should be done: We remain deeply concerned about the possible influence of the internet on suicide rates, not least the ease with which information about particular methods can be found with a simple web search. These
sites are preying on vulnerable and lonely people.
But the UK Internet Service Providers Association said it did not have editorial control over site prioritisation and would only take sites down if they were illegal.
|21st March |
Suicide information blamed for Bridgend suicides
See full article from the
Tougher regulation of the internet is needed to stop websites giving detailed instructions on how to commit suicide, a coroner said before the inquests of five of the 17 young people believed to have killed themselves in Bridgend.
who has been investigating a string of suspected suicides in the area since January 2007, singled out video-sharing websites such as YouTube for criticism.
In one YouTube clip, viewed by the Bridgend coroner, an American man explains how to tie a
hangman's noose and mentions his growing fanbase in the UK.
Walters said the man's diary was very disturbing and that there was no doubt it was encouraging people to take their own lives: If that was not the case, why bother to instruct people
to commit suicide?