At Hearing with HHS Secretary, Rep. Wild Pushes for YouTube Suicide Prevention Efforts
Washington – Today, during Secretary Becerra’s testimony to the House Education and Labor Committee, Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) pressed the Secretary to redouble efforts to prevent instructional suicide videos on platforms like YouTube. The question comes after a new study was released about a surge in suspected suicide attempts by adolescent girls.
“Before I get to my question, I would like to take a moment to remind people out there watching today that there are many resources available for people who are in distress or contemplating suicide. The national suicide prevention hotline is currently always available at 800-273-8255, and we look forward to the implementation of 988 as the new suicide prevention hotline in July 2022. It has been an indescribably difficult year for people in my community and across the country. And our kids are hurting. A new study just confirmed that suicide attempts among teenage girls have increased dramatically with emergency rooms now reporting 39% more suicide attempts for girls age 12-17 in winter 2021 compared to 2019.
“Your department is very important piece of the suicide prevention safety net, but it is only one piece. Some partners who you would expect to be helping are our large companies – including YouTube but I have been pushing for months to get YouTube to step up their suicide prevention policies and finally remove instructional videos on how to tie a noose. We need to meet and find people where they are, and all too often now our young people are—for better or worse—looking for answers on places like YouTube. Secretary Becerra, are you willing to work with my office to convene a meeting with YouTube and experts in suicide prevention to get this addressed?”
“Suicide prevention often comes down to reducing or eliminating the opportunities and/or actual means for vulnerable individuals to attempt suicide,” said teen psychotherapist and Promly founder, Dr. Jennifer Libby. “Platforms like YouTube must step up to make it more difficult for people struggling with suicidal thoughts to access instructional videos. I’m glad to hear that the Department of Health and Human Services is a willing partner in this fight and will help prevent this public health crisis from risking more lives, and grateful to Rep. Wild for her leadership in fighting for kids.”
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control indicated that ER visits for teen suicide attempts among girls are on the rise in 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. This troubling news compounds existing data about the mental health impact of the pandemic.
In September of 2020, Rep. Wild lead a bipartisan group of her colleagues to send a letter to YouTube about this issue.