Subject: Some online content is distressing - how can we respond?

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Hi Friend,

Today our hearts are heavy.

Over the past few days, a suicide video has been circulating on social media. This Livestream is of a 33-year-old man, Ronnie McNutt. Described as "caring, committed, loyal, dependable and eccentric", Ronnie's circumstances drove him to despair—he put a shotgun to his head and filmed his death for his friends and family to see. We cannot even begin to imagine what pain his loved ones are feeling. And beyond this incident, our thoughts are with everyone facing such tragic loss of life.

This video has caused unimaginable distress for some viewers. If you have not yet felt the ramifications in your schools and youth organisations, please be aware. Social media platforms are working hard to remove the video promptly. However, some people have become desensitised to extreme and violent content—responding as if it's a joke, re-uploading the video and continuing to share. For this reason, we recommend that you alert families to advise young people to stay off social media for a few days. In many schools, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle—our team has had reports of young people airdropping the clip between themselves, so we must address this trend. 

Today the eSafety Office released a statement:

eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, and National Suicide Prevention Adviser to the Prime Minister, Christine Morgan, have today urged all Australians to avoid viewing or sharing a disturbing video currently circulating on social media platforms.

“We advise parents, carers and educators against drawing young people’s attention to the issue unnecessarily, so as not to peak curiosity – once you see this horrific content, it’s impossible to unsee. Instead, keep an eye on those who are more vulnerable and at-risk, and check in with them about their interactions on and offline, help them build their digital resilience and let them know they can come to you for help if they see graphic or distressing content online.” 

eSafety has developed a series of tips for parents to help limit young people’s exposure to harmful content online:

The Commissioner urges people who encounter this content to report it to the social media platform they’ve seen it on, or to eSafety. They also recommend the following: 
  • Engage in your child’s online activities – ask what apps, sites and games they’re using and make sure they’re age-appropriate
  • Use parental controls on devices to help limit what your child is exposed to
  • Help them report and block upsetting content they see on social media sites or apps
  • Let them know they can come to you about anything upsetting they see online
  • Head to eSafety to find out the latest advice on apps, social media and online safety issues
We strongly advise reading the complete statement for more information. Additionally, please encourage anyone who may be at risk or experiencing emotional distress, including worried family and friends, to contact a support service. Australian services can be found here.

We will be discussing this tonight on our LIVE update, providing further dialogue on what you can do to support young people when they see things that can't be unseen. Over and above the tragedy of this incident is the confronting reality that young people are faced with shocking content online regularly. Events such as this that go viral tend to shine a light on what is already there. It's also a reminder of the stress people are facing, the fragility AND VALUE of life, the profound ways that the internet connects us to each other for the good and the bad, the urgency to protect our little ones by keeping them off social media, and the importance of connection so that our young people have a safe network to help them navigate extreme and harmful content.

I invite you to join myself and Youth Wellbeing Project Parent Advocate, Jenny Hoey, tonight at 8.30pm AEST:
Finally, more relevant now than ever, there's still a few days to access the incredible free resources provided as part of the PB West Child Protection Week Challenge and put children first.
Till next time, be well and stay inspired.

Then download the Child Protection Week Challenge package available when you sign up.

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Youth Wellbeing Project, PO Box 1055, North Lakes, QLD, 4509, Australia
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