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Today is Safer Internet Day: a global celebration to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology. In the coming weeks the Online Safety Bill will be laid before the U.K. Parliament.

The latest available figures show that 805 people in Scotland tragically took their own lives in 2020. Suicide is the biggest killer of young people aged 16-24 and the suicide rate for young females is now at its highest rate on record.

Whilst suicide and self-harm is complex and rarely caused by one thing, in many cases the internet is involved: a 2017 inquiry into suicides of young people found suicide-related internet use in nearly 26% of deaths in under 20s, and 13% of deaths in 20–24-year-olds. Samaritans’ research has shown that at least a quarter of patients who had self-harmed with high suicidal intent had used the internet in connection with their self-harm.[iii]

As the UK’s leading suicide prevention charity, Samaritans is working to help create a suicide-safe internet.

In its current form, the Online Safety Bill does not go far enough to deliver this.

Legislation must be enhanced to ensure people are protected from harmful online suicide and self-harm content.

The new report from Samaritans Towards a Suicide-Safer Internet explains the nature of the problem in more detail, and how policymakers can help create a safer online environment. The full report can be found here:

The Online Safety Bill presents an opportunity to make the internet safer for everyone. This opportunity must not be missed.


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