Girl committed suicide after reading suicide Q&A on Quora.com

Quora.com is currently being favoured by Google’s search engine under a new algorithm because it’s a large site with constantly renewed and refreshed content by the users and members of that well-funded website. As a consequence, it has been elevated with a sharply increased number of hits.

Depressed girl of 14. This is a model and the photo was set up.
Depressed girl of 14. This is a model and the photo was set up. Picture is licensed under an unconditional Creative Commons license.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The Times reports on Saturday June 8th 2024 that a teenage girl took her life immediately after looking up a suicide section on Quora.com.

Her name is Isabella Shere. May she rest in peace, bless her. She lived in Lewisham, South London. It is known that she was on the Quora.com website just before she died on February 2. A coroner has demanded that the administrators of Quora.com take action against suicide content on the website.

Adam D’Angelo is the head of the website and a former senior executive at Facebook. He was until recently also on the board of Open AI, the company that developed ChatGPT.

Under the UK’s Online Safety Act, websites such as Quora.com will have a legal duty to stop children accessing content that promotes suicide. The act comes into force in the spring of 2025.

It was not known that Isabella was struggling with mental health issues but the authorities were able to access her Internet search history for the last four months of her life. It indicated that she was looking for information about suicide according to the assistant coroner’s report.

The coroner, Fleur Hallet, issued a ‘prevention of future deaths’ report. She has written to the Quora’s chief executive, the culture secretary, Lucy Fraser and the regulator, Ofcom.

“Her family left the house at around 8 AM. Miss Shere was found at 1:21 PM and her phone showed a timer which was running at 5 hours and 13 minutes.”

Just before she died, she was looking at a suicide thread on the website which encouraged further engagement with the thread including voting for the most useful answers according to Hallet’s report. She recorded a verdict of suicide.

One problem is that vulnerable children can access this content through search engines such as Google’s which now favours this site as mentioned, without being questioned as to whether they are adults. This particular thread had received 169,000 views, which as you can imagine, is a very high number indeed.

There appears to be a disturbing fascination with that particular thread and therefore with taking one’s own life.

Hallet added in her report that:

“There is not sufficient monitoring and/or moderation of the content of questions, answers in accordance with Quora’s own platform policies. In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you and/or your organisation have the power to take such action.”

These kinds of corners’ reports are written when they believe there is a risk of other deaths happening under similar circumstances. Quora is required to respond within 56 days as is Ofcom and the culture Secretary’s office.

RELATED: Animal exploitation videos on social media platforms are a concern

Managing self-harm and suicide content online is a critical responsibility for platforms. Guidelines exist to support safe and sensitive management of such content while allowing users to benefit from the online environment. These guidelines emphasize minimizing harm while providing access to valuable resources. Additionally, other platforms like Discord have specific policies in place to prevent the sharing of self-harm illustrations and discourage promoting or normalizing self-harm. It’s essential for all online communities to prioritize mental health and safety. If you encounter concerning content, consider reporting it to the platform administrators. 🌟 Sources include: media.samaritans.org

4 thoughts on “Girl committed suicide after reading suicide Q&A on Quora.com”

  1. It’s impossible to say definitively how many young girls die by suicide solely due to social media. Suicide is a complex issue with many contributing factors. However, research suggests a strong link between social media use and mental health in young people, especially girls. Studies have found social media can contribute to:

    Body image issues and eating disorders
    Depression and anxiety
    Social comparison and feelings of inadequacy

    These factors can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

    Here are some resources that can help:
    If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 988.
    Here are resources for parents and teens to learn more about social media and mental health:

    hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/is-social-media-use-bad-for-young-peoples-mental-health-its-complicated/

    Reply
  2. It is a shame that Google decided to favour Quora.com which is now receiving many more hits when their admin team appears to have been working at a less-than-optimal level in ensuring that youngers are protected from unhealthy influences. I hope Google has had a word with them and made their favouritism conditional on excellent site management.

    Reply
  3. This is a minimal comment. I have always disliked Quora and have been very annoyed it has been coming up in ways that make me look at it before I can avoid it as i previously always did. Now i know the reason it has been that way and dislike it even more.

    Reply
    • Thanks RM. For me Quora is another one of those extravagently funded websites that probably makes a loss and is badly managed as highlighted by this story. It is another one of those sites that dominates the internet when it should not as it hurts millions of smaller, independently owned and run sites. You earned 10 cents for an animal welfare charity.

      Reply

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