Parents who have lost their children to suicide are calling for authorities to consider the online histories of the deceased when determining the cause of death. Hollie Dance, mother of Archie Battersbee who passed away in August 2022, has joined other grieving families in demanding increased access to the online content their children were exposed to.
Dance believes that online histories should be part of the investigation process, alongside other factors such as home and school life. Archie, 12 years old, died after being found unconscious at home, and his mother suspects he may have been participating in an online challenge. However, the coroner ruled his death as accidental.
In a landmark ruling in September, a coroner determined that 14-year-old Molly Russell’s death was not due to suicide, but rather “an act of self-harm while suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content.” Molly had viewed a significant amount of content related to suicide, depression, and anxiety online. Her father, Ian Russell, has been campaigning for access to his daughter’s social media history since her death in November 2017.
Liam Walsh, father of Maia Walsh who died just weeks before her 14th birthday, hopes that the coroner will have access to his daughter’s full social media history before determining the cause of her death. An inquest into Maia’s death opened in October, but a hearing date has not yet been set.
Lisa Kenevan, whose 13-year-old son Isaac passed away, believes that social media might hold clues to what led to his death. In her first interview since Isaac’s death, she expressed her commitment to raising awareness about the potential dangers of social media platforms and offering support to other parents going through similar experiences.
George and Areti Nicolaou, parents of 15-year-old Christoforos, who took his own life in 2022 after joining an online forum where he was encouraged to participate in dangerous challenges, have launched the Christoforos Charity Foundation in their son’s memory. They, along with other families, hope to raise awareness of online harms and ensure that their children’s legacies reach even further.
These families’ efforts highlight the growing concern about the impact of online content on young people’s mental health and well-being. They call for increased scrutiny and regulation of social media platforms, as well as greater support for those affected by online harms.
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