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Are internet service providers responsible for online suicide pacts?

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 13 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:d2113
  1. Qijin Cheng, PhD candidate, Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China
  1. chengqj{at}

Information that might encourage suicide is widespread on the internet, and a recent study describes this situation in mainland China (J Clin Psychiatry 2011;72:313-9, doi:10.4088/JCP.09m05440blu). The Chinese government has shown its willingness to combat so called inappropriate information online, but it is unclear whether information that might encourage suicide is categorised as such inappropriate information.

According to the Chinese media, the first civil case in China where parents sued an internet service provider over their son’s suicide took place in October 2010 in Lishui City, Zhejiang Province (Beijing Times 2010 Dec 4: 14). The plaintiff’s son, known as A, a 20 year old university student, responded to a suicide pact invitation made by B, a 22 year old university student, through QQ Groups, China’s most popular instant messaging service. In June 2010 the two tried to commit suicide together by carbon monoxide poisoning using charcoal …

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