Websites for suicidal people vary in content and could be harmful to those at risk
Published 18/12/2015 | 02:30
Some internet sites for people who feel suicidal are potentially harmful, according to a new study.
Their "front pages" in some cases can include methods to complete suicide, warned the research led by doctors in Tallaght Hospital in Dublin.
They found that sites aimed at helping people could be difficult to navigate and highly variable in content.
Phone credit was needed in many cases in order to contact helplines, the findings in the 'Irish Medical Journal' revealed.
Most of them directed people to voluntary organisations, mainly the Samaritans.
"Information on fundraising and volunteering competed with other sources of help," it said.
They also found that professional medical bodies were not well represented and offered very limited advice.
They suggested that the different organisations generate an enhanced and co-ordinated, frequently updated and evaluated "front page" targeted at specific groups.
They could start by focusing on men in the 18 to 24 age group who are at higher risk. They also tend to be high internet information-seekers.
Simulated patient experience could play a valuable role, the research suggested.
Ireland has the fourth-highest youth suicide rate in the EU. While the internet can offer empathy and support, it can also be a danger, they added.