Molly Russell: Instagram bans graphic self-harm images after suicide of UK teen

The social media giant has admitted it is not "where we need to be on self-harm and suicide".

UK teenager Molly Russell.

UK teenager Molly Russell's father said Instagram was partly responsible for her death Source: Supplied by family via BBC

Instagram announced on Thursday it will ban all graphic self-harm images, following accusations the platform was partly responsible for the suicide of British teenager Molly Russell.

In a statement, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said they had consulted global experts and academics on youth, mental health and suicide prevention. 

"Over the past month we have seen that we are not where we need to be on self-harm and suicide, and that we need to do more to keep the most vulnerable people who use Instagram safe".


"We will not allow any graphic images of self-harm, such as cutting on Instagram – even if it would previously have been allowed as admission," Mr Mosseri said.

Family handout photo of Molly Russell from 2015
Family handout photo of Molly Russell from 2015 Source: AAP

It comes after the family of 14-year-old Molly, who died by suicide in 2017, discovered she had been viewing graphic images of self-harm on the platform before taking her own life.

"Social media companies, through their algorithms, expose young people to more and more harmful content, just from one click on one post," Molly's father Ian said in a statement last month.

"In the same way that someone who has shown an interest in a particular sport may be shown more and more posts about that sport, the same can be true of topics such as self-harm or suicide." 

MPs and advocacy groups in the UK also blasted the platform in the wake of Molly's death, with the minister for suicide prevention Jackie Doyle-Price warning that social media sites were "normalising" self-harm.

Asked if he would resign if the problem was not solved, Mr Mosseri said he would have "a long thought" about his performance if self-harm images were still on the site in six months. 

Mr Russell welcome Thursday's announcement.

"It is now time for other social media platforms to take action to recognise the responsibility they too have to their users if the internet is to become a safe place for young and vulnerable people," he .

An inquest into Molly's death is expected later this year.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25).

More information about mental health is available at .

3 min read
Published 8 February 2019 at 7:35am
By Nick Baker