Molly Russell: how a teenager’s death put social media on trial

Today in Focus Series

Last month a coroner said Molly ‘died from an act of self-harm whilst suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content’

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After 14-year-old Molly Russell died in November 2017, her father, Ian, looked for answers. He scrolled through some of the social media posts she had been exposed to in the final months of her life.

“I can remember one that said ‘who would love a suicidal girl?’ and it had a little cartoon drawing of a sad-looking girl next to it,” he tells Michael Safi.

“Each of those posts in its own way may not have done much, but what they did do collectively when you saw them on Molly’s timeline, was start to fill you with that sense of hopelessness, of unworthiness.”

At the inquest, the coroner verdict was that “Molly Rose Russell died from an act of self-harm whilst suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content”. Dan Milmo, the Guardian’s global technology editor, reports on the evidence presented at the inquest, and what campaigners believe needs to be done to make social media safer for children.

Molly Russell

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