Self-harm content on social media led to death of 14-year-old girl

SubhamSeptember 30, 2022
Spread the love

Exposure to a massive amount of self-harm content on both Instagram and Pinterest played a key role in the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell, concluded an inquest.

Executives from both social media companies have admitted that the teenager was exposed to material she should not have been able to see, and apologized for the failings …

Self-harm content on social media

Concerns about the impact of social networks on the mental health of teenagers were crystalized last year, when an internal report carried out by Instagram concluded that it was harmful to as many as 20% of teenage girls using the app. Most worryingly of all, it was shown to increase the risk of suicide.

Instagram owner Meta said that the report only highlighted the worst-case scenarios, but the company subsequently “paused” its Instagram for Kids project and pledged to make the app healthier for teens.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is among those who have expressed concern about the potential harm technology can do to mental health.

Molly Russell

The 14-year-old died after viewing extreme amounts of self-harm content on both Instagram and Pinterest. In the six months prior to her death, she liked more than 11,000 Instagram posts, and accessed Pinterest to view similar material more than 15,000 times in the same period.

An earlier report said that Russell committed suicide, but her inquest said that it was not safe to conclude that her intention was to kill herself, only that she intended to self-harm.

The Guardian reports.

Molly Russell, 14, died as a result of self-harm when she had depression and was suffering from the “negative effects of online content”, a coroner has ruled […]

Concluding it would not be safe to rule Molly’s cause of death as suicide, senior coroner Andrew Walker said some of the sites viewed by her were “not safe” because they allowed access to adult content that should not have been available to a 14-year-old.

“It is likely that the above material viewed by Molly, already suffering with a depressive illness and vulnerable due to her age, affected her in a negative way and contributed to her death in a more than minimal way,” said Walker, delivering his findings of fact at the inquest.

In his conclusion, he said Molly “died from an act of self-harm whilst suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content”.

Executives from both Pinterest and Instagram parent company Meta were required to attend the inquest and give evidence. Both admitted that Russell was exposed to content which should not have been available to her, and offered their apologies.

Elizabeth Lagone, the head of health and wellbeing policy at Meta, the owner of Instagram and Facebook, admitted Molly had viewed posts that violated its content policies and Lagone apologised.

A senior Pinterest executive also apologised for the platform showing inappropriate content and acknowledged that the platform was not safe at the time Molly was on it.

Help is available

If you are considering self-harm, or would simply like someone to talk to, there are people ready to help. You do not need to be considering suicide to call.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can either phone or text from anywhere in the US. You can also find mental health resources on the organization’s website.

In the UK, the Samaritans are also available 24/7. Call 116-123, or text SHOUT to 85258.

In other countries, Google “Suicide helpline” to find local help.

Photo: Family photo released to the media to highlight the problem

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:


Leave a comment

Name *
Add a display name
Email *
Your email address will not be published