Suicide, self-harm and eating disorder content on independent sites.
RHC commonly receives reports about pro eating disorder, suicide and self-harm content on sites other than the large social media platforms. Reporters are often extremely concerned about these sites, as they themselves might be struggling with these issues, or have friends and family who are.
Unfortunately, RHC is unable to take action on these types of sites as they are independently owned and moderated. This means that they do not have the same community standards as the larger social media platforms, which do not allow content which encourages or glorifies eating disorders, self-harm and suicide. Independently owned and moderated sites are able to set their own rules, which often include permitting harmful and distressing content.
Pro-eating disorder, self-harm and suicide sites are not always be considered illegal in the UK, limiting the actions law enforcement can take to help. In part, this is because experts recognise that the people who run these sites are often ill themselves and should not be criminalised. Furthermore, although these sites can be harmful, there is an argument that they offer a sense of community to people who are really struggling; these forums are often the only place where people with eating disorders, self-harming behaviours or suicidal ideation can go to feel understood and less alone.
RHC regularly consults with government and other charitable organisations on the best information to put out about pro eating disorder, self-harm and suicide forums, so that individuals can make informed decisions when using them.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with an eating disorder, self-harm or suicidal ideation, RHC recommends being mindful around your use of these types of forums. Monitor your time spent on them and track whether you are finding them helpful or harmful. Seek face to face support from friends and family where you can and speak to someone if you have been triggered by these sites. Finally, think carefully about the type of content you are posting and whether that might be potentially triggering to another user.
There are many other places you can go to seek help for eating disorders, self-harm and suicidal ideation which are certified as safe, supportive and non-triggering.
For eating disorder support, visit BEAT: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/
For help with self-harm recovery, visit Self Harm UK: https://www.selfharm.co.uk/
For support around suicide, visit Papyrus: https://papyrus-uk.org/
If you’re struggling with any aspect of your mental health and want to talk to someone independently, visit The Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call the emergency services on 999 for assistance.