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Security Lancaster Seminar

Dr Jo Bell and Dr Iain Brennan, University of Hull

Thursday 29 May 2014, 1300-1400

Harmful Suicide Related Content Online: What is it, how can we access it and how can we respond to it?

The last 15 years has seen a rapid increase in suicide-related resources on the internet. Suicide related internet use and communication can be both helpful and harmful. However, a number of high profile deaths have highlighted the dangers of pro-suicide sites. Such sites represent a major cyber safety issue. A recent report by one of the UKs largest internet providers suggested that 'suicide is more important to parents than porn'. Although the hosting of pro-suicide sites in the UK was made illegal in 2010, there is a lack of consensus on what constitutes harmful or illegal 'pro-suicide' content and a lack of consistency in search terms used to identify it. Existing research into online suicide related information and communication has been criticised for inconsistency in categorisation and identification.

Thus online pro-suicide activity is difficult to define and detect. There is an urgent need for research aimed at identifying and categorising pro-suicide sites and search terms associated with harmful content. There is also a need for accurate and up-to-date knowledge of keywords and communication entered by users who search or provide pro-suicide content as a key resource for filtering, monitoring and intervention purposes. In this presentation we will outline areas for future research and collaboration. What is harmful suicide related content, how can we access it and how can we respond to it?