"At least seven" teenagers in Bridgend, South Wales, have committed suicide recently, the Times of London reported this week, calling them "copycat suicides" and linking them to the teens' social networking. The Guardian, however, reported that both the coroner and police in South Wales "downplayed suggestions that they were investigating an internet 'suicide chain'" as reported in "the tabloids." They said they've taken one of the deceased girls' computer to "build up a picture of what happened" rather than investigate any particular Web site. The coroner, who told The Guardian that "the number of suicides in the area had been increasing 'year on year' over the past three years, also said social-networking sites are "global, so why would they cause an issue in Bridgend in particular?" The Net may've had a role but not a causative one, the Times suggests in its article – maybe a role more like that of traditional media. It cites University of Bristol professor David Gunnell as saying that "research had shown a connection between reports of suicide in the media and copycat deaths, and it was likely that discussions of suicide on websites would have a similar effect."
NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
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