Submissions/Suicide and the online environment

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2014 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no. 1068
Title of the submission
Suicide and the online environment
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Presentation (or any other if more appropriate)
Author of the submission
Sal Lalji - Samaritans
E-mail address
Sal Lalji
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The internet has transformed society and become a part of our every day lives. It is increasingly clear that vulnerable people are tuning to online communities for information.

The media has highlighted a number of cases where it is claimed that suicides have been heavily influenced by online content in various self-harm and suicide-related websites and social networking forums.

Others maintain that the internet can provide a space where those with suicidal thoughts can express their feelings and find support. Attempting to shut down websites or ban content could drive discussion underground and discourage vulnerable people from seeking help.

Wikipedia is has been created and evolves through global conversation, this means that it can potentially provide readily accessible information that may increase the risk of suicide and allows an immediate exchange of self-regulated user-generated content. It’s important for us to harness the best of Wikipedia’s community to support vulnerable people and encourage them to seek help.

The concept of “copycat suicides” and social contagion are well researched. Samaritans has been working, for over two decades, on the portrayal of suicide in in the media to reduce the risk of imitative behavior. Both the media and the internet can play a role in contributing to these phenomena.

Global lack of research, however, poses considerable challenges for suicide prevention work in the online environment. Samaritans has joined forces with Bristol University to research the actual risks and benefits of the internet for people with suicidal feelings, and find out how often it plays a role in suicidal behavior. This is the first time this hugely important issue will be researched by talking to people with actual experience of using the internet when they were feeling suicidal.

Undoubtedly, the key to supporting vulnerable web-users in the future will be in collaboration.

WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

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