London, Apr 11 : It takes just two clicks to search websites that encourage suicide, giving information about how to take your life and it's different methods, says a new research.
And the chances of coming across sites that offer help for those considering suicide are rather bleak, says the study.
In recent times, reports have highlighted the existence and possible influence of Internet sites that promote suicide and web forums that may encourage suicide in young people.
But despite reports, the ease with which these sites can be found on the Internet has not been systematically documented nor the kind of information they contain been described, reports The British Medical Journal.
Researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Oxford and Manchester set out to replicate a typical search that might be undertaken by a person looking for instructions and information about methods of suicide using the four most popular search engines-Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask-and 12 simple search terms.
In the study, the research team analyzed the first ten sites from each search, giving a total of 480 hits.
Altogether 240 different sites were found and just under half of these provided some information about methods of suicide. Almost a fifth of hits (90) were for dedicated suicide sites, of which half were judged to be encouraging, promoting, or facilitating suicide.
Sixty-two sites focused on suicide prevention or offered support and 59 sites actively discouraged suicide.
Almost all dedicated suicide and factual information sites provided information about methods of suicide. But, a fifth of support and prevention sites and over half of academic or policy sites, and all news reports of suicides also provided information about methods.
Citing the analysis, the researchers concluded that service providers might pursue website optimization strategies to maximize the likelihood that sites aimed at preventing suicide are preferentially sourced by people seeking information about suicide methods rather than potentially harmful sites.
The study is published in The British Medical Journal.