William questions social media efforts on suicide prevention

The Duke of Cambridge has asked whether social media platforms are doing enough to prevent suicide, after meeting the father of a teenager who killed herself having viewed graphic content on Instagram.

William and the Duchess of Cambridge met Ian Russell, father of Molly Russell, who took her own life in November 2017 aged 14.

Mr Russell has said he believes Instagram was partly responsible for her death.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet Ian Russell
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet Ian Russell (Yui Mok/PA)

Visiting the Troubadour White City Theatre in west London, William and Kate offered Mr Russell their condolences, and William asked him: “Do you think companies like Instagram are doing enough?”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Russell said: “My thoughts on Instagram are, we’re grateful that they’re doing something but I think they’re only really inching along the road, and they need to do a lot more.”

Mr Russell also disclosed that the duke had been in touch with the family earlier this year to offer his support, and added: “Support from all ends helps, support from the royal family, perhaps, particularly helps.”

The duke and duchess were attending an event with the charity Shout, celebrating its volunteers who use a text service to assist people in crisis.

Since its launch in 2018, 1,500 volunteers have had 145,000 text conversations with people in crisis, exchanging a total of six million messages.

We're delighted to welcome some very special guests to our event today as we are joined by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. #Shout85258pic.twitter.com/92WtthDRLZ

— Shout UK (@GiveUsAShout) November 12, 2019

Since its founding, 75% of people who have contacted Shout have been under 25, and the most common issues raised are suicide, depression, relationships, anxiety, isolation and self-harm.

Mr Russell was full of praise for the charity, and hoped it would help people in crisis to communicate.

He said: “This is one of the most positive crisis services that I have come across.

“Since Molly’s death we’ve been searching for really solid, easy solutions.

“This is one of the foremost and it’s because it’s text based.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a volunteer celebration at the Troubadour White City Theatre
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a volunteer celebration at the Troubadour White City Theatre (Yui Mok/PA)

In May, William and Kate joined the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in launching an appeal for volunteers for the text service.

By the following weekend, 13,000 people had registered their interest.

Addressing gathered volunteers on Tuesday, William paid tribute to their hard work and dedication.

He said: “Catherine and I heard outside about how many of you are waking up at 3am to answer the peak demand.

“The fact we’ve had to launch Shout shows just how in need the mental health sector is at the minute.

“We still have an enormous challenge ahead of us.

“Catherine and I, and I know I speak for Harry and Megan as well, couldn’t be more proud of what Shout has accomplished.”

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