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MP backs moves to crack down on suicide websites

By Sam Lister

A campaign to ban suicide websites has been backed by a DUP MP after he witnessed first-hand the devastation of a spate of suicides in Portadown.

Upper Bann's David Simpson told how families in the town were left with “near unbearable heartbreak” after loved ones took their own lives.

In 2007 three 15-year-old school friends from Craigavon Senior High School killed themselves within the three weeks of each other. Lee Walker and James Topley, both GCSE students, died soon after attending the funeral of friend Wayne Browne.

Just months before Stuart Fletcher (28) hanged himself from a tree in a park in the same neighbourhood.

Mr Simpson signed a Commons Early Day Motion call for a crackdown on websites that promote suicide, warning of the dangers to vulnerable young people.

He said: “In my area there have been quite a number of tragic incidents where young people have taken their own lives.

“This has brought near unbearable heartache to the parents and family members who have been left behind. I have had to sit with parents as they poured out their heartbreak to me.

“Websites that actually promote suicide and make material available, especially to vulnerable young people, are highly irresponsible.

“I fully support every effort to investigate any way of clamping down on this kind of behaviour,” he added.

Research published last month by The Prince's Trust found more than a third of jobless young people in Northern Ireland have felt suicidal.

Ian Jeffers, director at the Prince's Trust, said: “The implications of youth unemployment stretch beyond the dole queue and the emotional effects on young people are profound, long-term and can become irreversible.”

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