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Parent Zone's CEO responds to self-harm and suicide content on Instagram

Parent Zone CEO Vicki Shotbolt has commented that social media platforms have a responsibility to ensure that suicide and self-harm content isn't served to vulnerable children and young people.

Her words follow a statement by Ian Russell, whose daughter Molly tragically committed suicide at the age of 14. Mr Russell said he considers Instagram partially responsible for his daughter’s death because Molly had been looking at content which celebrated suicide and self-harm before she took her life in 2017.

Last night Facebook, which owns Instagram, apologized for hosting the content.

Vicki Shotbolt, Parent Zone CEO, said:

“There can’t be a parent in the country who doesn’t feel for Molly’s parents  - and hasn’t worried that their own children could be sucked in by Instagram content which glorifies self-harm and suicide.  

“It’s good to see that Facebook has acknowledged this tragic event by apologising - and we hope the company will now put more resources to quickly removing inappropriate content from its platforms.

“Posting about suicidal feelings can be an important outlet for someone who's struggling and reaching out for support - but that same content also normalises self-harm and suicide for vulnerable young people. Instagram should by now have realised that surfacing it on the basis of young users’ engagement with previous posts is a risky strategy with potentially devastating consequences.

“We think parents are right to expect more from the platforms that their children use and trust. A great place to start would be better communication from the company for parents, helping them to start a conversation with their children about this kind of content. The results of not doing so could be catastrophic.”

 

Parent Info has useful resources for parents on children and self-harm:

https://parentinfo.org/article/what-to-do-if-your-child-is-self-harming

https://parentinfo.org/article/self-harm-facts-for-parents

https://parentinfo.org/article/self-harm-what-parents-should-know

 

The Parent Zone site contains additional advice for those who work with children:

https://parentzone.org.uk/article/advice-professionals-what-do-if-child-self-harming