Published on February 4, 2014 | by Caroline Schmitt

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Students warned about self-harm and depression blogs

Girl looking at tumblr website on her laptop.

Tumblr’s policies ban self-harm blogs, however suicidal and depressive content continues to get in [Mary Sommer]

The head of counselling at UAL, Ken Ewings, has warned students about blogs which promote self-harm and depression, following an inquest into the suicide of a 15-year-old ballerina from North London.

Tallulah Wilson was said to have immersed herself in the self-harm and suicide content that is rife in the Tumblr community, which her mother said “brainwashed” her to jump in front of a train at St Pancras station in October 2012.

Ewings acknowledges the problems that are partially imposed by social media: “There can be value in people sharing thoughts with like–minded individuals on blogs but there are dangers of negative thinking and risky behaviours being reinforced. Usually on these forums there is no professional input and for those who are unwell and isolated from others … the risks go up.”

Tumblr already has policies that ban self-harm blogs once they are brought to its attention, however the government is expected to demand more control over social media content.

Culture secretary Maria Miller announced that a special summit on the cyber–bullying issue will be taking place soon.

Innate power

Selena Gray, writer for The Telegraph and founder of the blog Team Fierce, which she set up to “remind girls of their innate power and teach them how to be fierce,” said Wilson’s case is part of a wider problem.

“When it comes to suicide there are never simple answers … It would be naive to think consuming suicidal content in a community with other struggling teenagers was the only contributing factor but it would be equally naive to think it had no effect at all.”

“I think it’s easy to lay the blame at Tumblr’s door but it’s not Tumblr’s job to protect children from harm, that’s what parents and carers are for,” Gray added.

 

If you are experiencing depression, you can seek support and advice from the UAL counselling and mental health team at counselling@arts.ac.uk and studenthealth@arts.ac.uk.

Other forms of help: Samaritans 08457 90 90 90 (24–hours a day) or visit www.studentsagainstdepression.org

 

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