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SUICIDE ON THE NET; Aid groups slam web sites that urge people to kill themselves.

SOCIAL workers battling Ireland's alarming suicide rates have slammed Internet sites that encourage people to take their own lives.

They called on the government to ban the sites, which can easily be accessed by children on home computers.

There are now as many as 12 web sites promoting suicide and providing detailed instructions on how to take your own life.

Experts fear people with suicidal thoughts could be tipped over the edge by the matter-of-fact way the sites discuss the problem.

Even schoolchildren can easily find the e-mail address by typing in a few keywords.

Fintan Dunne, of Men's Aid, which operates a suicide help line, called on the authorities to act.

He said: "Ireland already has a terrible suicide rate and these web sites are only going to make the problem a lot worse.

"The government need to take action to stop them and to take the whole issue of suicide more seriously.

"We are concerned that the availability of information on how to commit suicide on the Internet could have a detrimental impact on Irish suicide rates which are appalling."

Experts believe the sites pose a particular danger to young men, who are the most prone to suicide.

Last year a total of 504 people took their own lives in Ireland - 423 were men.

Yesterday the Irish Mirror found 10 web sites promoting suicide, some giving detailed instructions on the best way to kill yourself.

One even advised how to write a suicide note and a "disclaimer" so anyone assisting a victim would not be prosecuted.

It read: "I [NAME] being of sound mind and body, will kill myself in service to the organism who bore me, my sacrifice will relieve a little of the suffering and tragedy that my species is creating and serve as a symbol of responsibility."

Another sick site criticised governments and the church for not encouraging people to commit suicide.

"Many countries spend a pittance on the prevention of suicide, but nothing on the encouragement of suicide, being deluded by the religious into devaluing death and the choice to end one's own life.

"Luckily there are still many ways we can ensue a quick and final end."

Disturbingly, some of the material, which is aimed at the young, appears to have been compiled by doctors or people with detailed medical knowledge.

One site describes the various drugs available and the amount needed to successfully kill oneself.

Men's Aid workers are now setting up an Internet site aimed at schools in an effort to try and counteract the suicide figures.

The site, which is already under construction and will be up and running before the new school term begins, will ask schools to participate to raise awareness.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Flanagan, Pat
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 18, 1999
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