The internet didn’t kill Tallulah Wilson, but it didn’t do much to help her

Tallulah Wilson posted self-harm photographs on Tumblr Photograph: FAMILY COLLECT/Evening Standard

Tallulah [Wilson] is not the only teenager to have committed suicide after reading enabling material online. In August last year, 14-year-old Hannah Smith took her own life having fallen victim to a prolonged online bullying campaign. Another 14-year-old, Ayden Keenan-Olson, used the internet to research the number of prescription pills he needed for an overdose. He was found dead by his mother in March.

However, correlation does not equal causation. Just as we cannot entirely attribute the actions of the rampaging gunman to his taste in video games, policing the online activity of depressed teenagers will not eradicate the cause of suicide: mental illness.

To attribute the deaths of these three teenagers solely to their internet browsing history is simplistic. That is not to say the “dark”, “destructive” and “toxic” online world in which thousands of young people embroil themselves isn’t damaging.

We cannot say with absolute conviction that, had the internet not existed, these young people would have done it anyway. But the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics reveal a slight decline in the number of suicides among 15- to 19-year-olds since 1981. Tumblr was founded in 2007 and, it may seem callous, but one must ask why, with the sharp increase in such websites, suicide among teenagers has not risen accordingly. – Jemima Owen for The Guardian

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