Today ‘The Sun’ carried a story about a young woman who found ways to kill herself from certain websites, & ended up with brain damage following an unsuccessful attempt. It focussed on “suicide websites” & self harm forums, and their influence over this woman.
A similar story was carried in the daily mail yesterday, & again I find myself angry as it is very misleading and ambiguous.
My comment on the daily mail article (which did not get published) was as follows:
“I find it very very sad that this girl felt that the only option was to take her own life. Having suffered from depression for 3 years, and knowing what it feels like to do the things described, I can empathise with her & those affected by mental health issues.
However, the article is misleading, and does not explain the nature of the sites. Were they pro-anorexia & self harm websites & forums? If so then I completely agree that they should be banned, although, if they were merely support forums then I strongly disagree. Supportive sites which focus on providing a platform for the expression of emotions are an important step towards recovery for many people. It is up to the individual to determine whether they will be ‘triggered’ by the content or whether it will help. Forums which discuss self harm, but are focussed on the recovery from mental health issues & self harm should be welcomed, otherwise we will not reduce stigma, and we will only serve to increase the rates of suicides. Furthermore, these sites are often ways to make friends with likeminded people, as Ruby Wax put it “our tribe”. This then leads to peer-support in the majority of cases, and the prevention of suicide or self harm. So it would be good if the articles were not so ambiguous and potentially misleading. I feel they perpetuate the myths & stigma around self harm & suicide.
What those articles should show people, is that it is ESSENTIAL that they seek professional support for mental health issues but also that it is ok to talk about them. We need to end stigma around mental health”