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Podcast Transcript: One of the darker Internet trends is the spread of pro-suicide Web sites. Victims meet online, exchange the best methods and may even make a pact to terminate themselves as a group.
An investigation published in the British Medical Journal this week found that Web searches for information on self-murder are likely to return sites that encourage, and even facilitate, suicide attempts.
Of 240 sites analyzed, just under half provided methods for taking one's own life, and 45 of those openly encouraged suicide.
The top three most frequently occurring sites in any Web search were all pro-suicide and gave information on the speed, reliability and likely amount of pain associated with various methods. Furthermore, chat rooms may exert peer pressure or reinforce ones' resolve to commit suicide, the authors wrote.
There is no regulation of suicide sites in the U.K., but the authors suggest that self-regulation by Internet service providers or the use of filtering software can help block the more damaging Web sites. Australia has made such sites illegal and service providers in Japan and South Korea have already started to block them.