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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 05:44 GMT 06:44 UK
Websites lobbied over net suicide
A growing number of suicides are linked to the internet
A growing number of suicides are linked to the internet
Internet companies have been asked to help with the growing problem of teenage suicides in Northern Ireland.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has met Bebo, Vodafone and Google in a bid to stop websites being used to promote suicide among young people.

He highlighted the growing danger of copycat suicides linked to internet usage and social networking sites.

Mr McGimpsey asked internet firms to confirm by the end of the month what action they intended to take.

The minister said that while recognising the "positive contribution made by the internet industry, what was needed now were preventative measures".

"Young people are our most valuable resource and we cannot delay in putting in place strong measures aimed at protecting them," he said.

"In the last twelve months the rate of suicides in Northern Ireland has increased significantly and the internet has been cited as a contributory factor in some cases."

The problem, he said, was not unique to Northern Ireland and "had the potential to be repeated in other jurisdictions".

"For that reason I will be raising this issue at my forthcoming meetings with my counterparts in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland," he said.

Mr McGimpsey chairs the Ministerial Coordination Group on Suicide Prevention.

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