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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2008, 09:36 GMT
Web review examines suicide spate
Natasha Randall
Police are investigating the death of 17-year-old Natasha Randall
An official review of internet sites which encourage suicide is expected to include an examination of a recent cluster of deaths in south Wales.

Parenting guru Tanya Byron has been considering the issue of suicide in an inquiry into child safety on the web.

The Ministry of Justice also said it was looking at taking action against websites that featured suicide.

It comes as South Wales Police are reviewing a number of suicides among young people in the Bridgend area.

Among these are the death of 17-year-old Natasha Randall, who was found hanging in her home at Blaengarw, near Bridgend, on 17 January.

The Government understands concerns about suicide websites and the influence they may have over vulnerable young people
Ministry of Justice

Police have taken her computer away for examination.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said any moves that it took would be in the form of guidance rather than any change in the law.

"The Government understands concerns about suicide websites and the influence they may have over vulnerable young people," he said.

"The law is clear on this. Assisting, or attempting to assist suicides is an offence, whether it is carried out on[line] or off-line.

"The Law Commission has recently examined the issue of suicide websites and made some recommendations, which the Government is considering.

Call for evidence

"These recommendations represent an updating of, rather than a substantive change to the law.

"The Law Commission were absolutely clear in their conclusion that our existing law is capable of dealing with the problem."

A Department for Children, Schools and Families spokeswoman confirmed that the independent Byron review, which was launched in September last year, would address the issue.

"The review is currently considering its responses to the call for evidence, including those on suicide, and will publish its final report in March," she added.

Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon has claimed social networking websites could be "romanticising suicide".

But South Wales Police have said there is no evidence of a "suicide pact," in the area nor anything to suggest the deaths are linked.



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