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19 January 2021

Academic commissioned to undertake research for Samaritans

Last month, the government announced it intends to introduce to Parliament an Online Harms Bill in 2021.

Dr Ian Marsh, Reader in the School of Public and Allied Health Professions, working alongside colleagues at the University of Birmingham and Middlesex University, has been commissioned to undertake research on behalf of Samaritans into 'Self-harm and suicide content online: understanding what makes content harmful and for whom’.

The aim of the research is to develop the evidence base around the impact of self-harm and suicide content online. This insight will be used to influence policy and practice to make the internet a safer place for vulnerable users. It will inform the programme of work at Samaritans and be used to underpin industry guidance, helping sites to minimise access to harmful self-harm and suicide content and maximise opportunities for support for vulnerable users.

The commissioned programme of research, led by Dr Anna Lavis at the University of Birmingham, will answer the following questions:

1. What content is most likely to cause harm or benefit and for whom?

2. What is the impact of discoverability of content and support on users?

3. How do users interact with self-harm and suicide content over time?

4. What is the impact of removing or blocking content on vulnerable users?

The research complements current ongoing work by Ian for Network Rail, National Trust, Highways England and East Sussex and Kent County Councils on suicide and suicide prevention.

Ian is presenting some of the online harms work as a plenary speaking at the upcoming National Suicide Prevention Alliances's online annual conference,' Suicide prevention in a changing world', on Thursday 28 January. Further details can be found here.

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Last edited: 15/01/2020 11:19:00