Social media ‘could cut suicide’

Social media sites should be harnessed to help prevent suicide among young people, according to researchers.

Writing in The Lancet, the researchers from Stirling and Oxford Universities said the sites could help build on government campaigns by providing support for vulnerable young people.

In the past, internet sites have been criticised for encouraging self-harm.

But the report says new media could instead be used to direct young people to seek help.

In a study by Stirling University in 2009, one in five school children said the internet, including social networking sites, influenced their decision to self-harm.

Now the researchers say the possible dangers posed by new media could be counteracted if the sites provided support for vulnerable young people.

They say because it is still a relatively new phenomenon, it is important to understand why internet postings can influence some young people to self-harm or take their own life.

Deaths reduced

Professor Rory O’Connor, of Stirling University’s Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory, said: “The reasons for adolescent suicide and self-harm are multiple and complex… Read more

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