Bridgend deaths: Police warn of Bebo 'internet suicide cult'
One small Welsh town has seen 13 of its young people die in a year
Sunday 27 January 2008
For millions of teenage fans, the internet site Bebo is a place to swap photos, gossip and while away the long hours of boredom that are part and parcel of growing up. But for a significant minority, the social networking site is more, much more.
A small town in south Wales has unwittingly found itself at the epicentre of what police fear could be an internet suicide cult. Senior detectives are investigating 13 young suicides during the past year in the Bridgend area, including the most recent: that of Natasha Randall, 17, who was found hanged at her family home 10 days ago. Two friends are still recovering, after trying to take their own lives within 24 hours of hearing about her.
The spate of deaths has exposed systemic failings in a country with no suicide-prevention strategy. From next week, Mind Cymru, the mental health charity, will launch a series of workshops aimed at those most at risk: college students and young professionals.
Madeleine Moon, MP for Bridgend, said: "We will be rolling out suicide-intervention training into schools and colleges."
Papyrus, a charity dedicated to preventing young suicides, estimates that every year in the UK 600-800 people aged 15 to 24 take their own lives – equivalent to an average secondary school. In all, some 1,600 people under 35 take their own lives annually. In 2006, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, there were 5,554 suicides in people aged 15 and over in the UK.
The sad irony of the wave of deaths in Bridgend is that hundreds more suicide eulogies are springing up on the web on an hourly basis. Almost 6,000 people have paid tribute to Natasha Randall on her Bebo page, R.I.P. Natasha, with a similar number also flocking to the website Gonetoosoon.com.
Charities are very worried that all the publicity could aggravate the situation. Anthony Langhan, of the Samaritans, said: We need to let young people know it's OK to seek help."
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 or samaritans.org
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Striker's four-month ban for biting an opponent expires on Friday
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job:SECONDARY teachers need...
£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Behaviour Support WorkerThe JobTo...
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is working in...
£60 - £65 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The J...