The Suicide (Prevention) Bill is a Private Members' Bill, sponsored by William McCrea MP MLA. It had its first reading in parliament in April 2012. Although the bill did not make it through the parliamentary session, it was reintroduced into parliament in November 2012.
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to set up a body to establish a public initiative for the prevention of suicide and self harm, to work with internet providers and others to reduce access to information on the internet and through other sources on methods of suicide and to develop a system of alerts and blocks for internet searches relating to suicide; and for connected purposes.
- The Office has the responsibility—
- (a) to establish a public initiative for the prevention of suicide and self harm;
- (b) to work with internet providers and others to reduce access to information on the internet, and through other sources on methods and instead direct internet users to websites which seek to provide support and assistance in the prevention of suicide and self harm;
- (c) to work with relevant bodies to develop a system of alerts and blocks for internet searches relating to suicide, and to implement a “Notice and Takedown” procedure by which service providers remove or disable access to potentially harmful content hosted on their networks;
- (d) to carry out such other functions as are conferred by, or by virtue of, this or any other enactment.
The First reading of the bill took place on 13/11/2012. McCrea suggested that:
- A recent medical journal focusing on suicide and the internet describes it as “extremely easy” to access information about suicide on the internet, and refers to several sites which describe the use of guns, overdosing, slashing one’s wrists and hanging as the best methods to end one’s life. The internet and new media are undeniably prominent features of youth culture, but there are mounting concerns about the difficulty of ensuring safe access for children and developing appropriate limits and supports in respect of that access. Online technologies are growing and expanding rapidly, and each form poses both potential and real risk to children, young people and the most vulnerable. Knowing how to use the internet safely is the key to a positive online experience, and to ensuring that the benefits of the internet are realised and children are protected from harm. In writing to me earlier this year, the executive director of Samaritans Ireland noted:
- “There are some aspects of the ways that individuals interact with one another online for example through social networking sites and online chat rooms that can place vulnerable people at risk by exposing them to detail about suicide methods or conversations that encourage suicide. Indeed in recent years there have been several widely reported cases of individuals taking their own lives having used websites that have provided explicit information on suicide methods or have been used to facilitate suicide pacts.”
On February 1, the Bill was not moved and thus not debated. Due to this, the time for a second reading lapsed and it is unclear when the Bill will make any further progress.