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‘It’s time for Google to start growing up’

‘Publicising methods of how to take your own life is just as irresponsible as publishing hate videos and terrorism videos. It’s the same thing; it leads to death and it leads to death that is preventable’.

  • Jackie Doyle-Price, Minister for Suicide Prevention

(source: Daily Telegraph, 23/12/2018).

Jackie Doyle-Price, Britain’s first Minister for Suicide Prevention, has called upon Google and other leading internet companies to ‘grow up’ and stop publishing material that could fuel self-harm and suicide.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph just before Christmas, Ms Doyle-Price, who was appointed to her present position (encompassing Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention) in October 2018, took aim at Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter, whilst singling out Google for additional criticism and urging all to take action.

Ms Doyle-Price accused the internet giants of ‘lacking social responsibility’, said material that promotes and encourages self-harm and suicide should be blocked and likened such content to hate and terrorism videos, which are removed.

‘It’s the same thing,’ she said. ‘It leads to death and it leads to death that is preventable. If someone who is vulnerable and considering taking their life reaches that state of utter low self esteem and self worth and they decide to go on the internet and start looking at ways to kill yourself, they are going to find access to those techniques – and that’s just totally unacceptable. It is for all of us across society to tackle this – we all have a duty of care.’

Have YOU come across potentially-harmful material online?

It isn’t hard to find and, for the troubled, the vulnerable and anyone determined to access such material, it’s never more than a few clicks away.

Here at CPUK, where we work with children and young people with Mental Health and emotional problems, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and low self esteem are issues familiar to us.

Given the proliferation of potentially damaging material on the internet, we couldn’t agree more with Ms Doyle-Price on this subject. Our view, like hers, is that this has gone far enough – and that the time has act has come.

Government regulation is an option, but given their prevalence in all our lives (and in those of young people in particular), it would be welcome indeed if Google and their peers stood up and took responsibility.

‘They are not new kids on the block any more,’ Ms Doyle-Price told the Telegraph. ‘They are mature companies and they should stop behaving like unruly teenagers and start behaving like mature, responsible players in the marketplace. It is time for Google to grow up.’

Like Ms Doyle-Price, who said that the internet giants needed to be ‘dragged, kicking and screaming’ into taking action, we have real concerns about social media, certain areas of the internet and their potential impact on the young and the vulnerable.

If – as the Government Minister responsible suggests – Google et al are lacking in responsibility, then it’s up to us, when it comes to young people, to take the mantle, as parents and as adults.

To encourage helpful coping strategies for those in need – not like self-harm but rather talking about troubles with friends and/or family, rebalancing priorities, taking more exercise and spending less time online – and to put appropriate and sensible guidelines in place when it comes to the internet.

Does YOUR child spend time online?

Think about how and where computers and other connected devices are used. Remove screens from bedrooms. Make rules. Stick to them.

Because this material is out there. Because it can and does do damage. Because the vulnerable will find it. Because we can’t rely on Google and their peers to grow up any time soon.

Concerned about self-harm/suicide and/or the impact that the internet is having on a child/young person? You can always contact us here.

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