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Samaritans research into how social media users experience self-harm and suicide content

Date: Thursday, 15th Dec 2022 | Category: General

As a part of Samaritans’ Online Excellence Programme they commissioned research to understand how social media users experience self-harm and suicide content. This research was conducted from January to June 2022. The research had three parts; Part One was an online focus group of 10 participants aged between 18 and 44 years old, Part Two was a national survey of 5,294 people aged 16 -84 and Part Three was Online in-depth interviews of 17 people aged between 16 and 46.

The aim of the research was to better understand the perspectives of social media users on platform safety policies and messaging relating to self-harm and suicide.

Some of the key learning is outlined below:

·       More than three quarters of people in the survey saw self-harm content online for the first time at age 14 or younger.

·       Whilst most platforms have age restrictions and age verification tools, participants highlighted that these can easily be bypassed, for example, by making up a fake date of birth.

·       Almost all, 98% of survey respondents, reported having seen a post that had been censored, blurred or marked with a warning.

·       More than half of survey respondents had reported a post because of self-harm/ suicide content. When asked if this resulted in the post being removed by the platform only 6% answered yes.

·       More than three quarters of survey respondents reported seeing signposting messages on social media, and around a third had contacted one of the professional sources of help.

You can read the full report here: How social media users experience self-harm and suicide content (