Image caption, Tom Parfett bought poison from a seller whose details were widely shared on the forum – he was 22 when he died
By Angus Crawford and Tony Smith
A leading UK broadband provider has blocked access for its 5.7 million users to a website promoting suicide.
Sky Broadband says the forum will automatically be barred if home users are using its standard filters.
A second provider, TalkTalk, said the controversial site had now been added to its list of inappropriate content and could also be blocked by users.
It follows a BBC investigation which revealed the forum has been linked to more than 50 deaths in the UK.
Last week, we revealed British authorities had failed to act on multiple official warnings about the website – which we are not naming. The site is accessible to anyone on the open web, including children.
Bereaved relatives had written to internet service providers in the UK requesting they block the forum.
Sky Broadband – the second biggest internet service provider (ISP) in the country – has now confirmed the forum had been added to a list of websites that are blocked by its Sky Broadband Shield safety filter, which is automatically activated on home routers.
The company said it had moved as quickly as possible and blocked the online forum with “immediate effect”.
And TalkTalk – which has about four millions users – told the BBC the site would now be blocked for any customer with its HomeSafe safety filter activated. It said it was unable to automatically block the site.
“We recognise our responsibility to ensure our customers feel safe and confident when online,” it added.
Following the publication of the BBC investigation, administrators of the controversial pro-suicide site have posted a message on its front page claiming that UK digital regulator Ofcom had “threatened to block this site under the newly passed Online Safety Bill”.
“We can’t give any less of a damn,” the post continued, and called on UK users to lobby MPs against what it called this “draconian” legislation.
Image caption, People known to have visited the forum before taking their lives – L-R from top row: Beth Matthews, Aaron Jones, Imogen Nunn, Josh Hendy, Zoe Lyalle, Jay Barr, Laura Campbell, Jason Thompson, Rose Paterson
David Parfett’s son Tom, 22, ended his life in 2021, after finding instructions on the forum.
Responding to Sky Broadband’s decision, Mr Parfett said: “It made me cry. It’s pure relief, mixed with anger that Tom may still be here if [the forum] had been regulated two years ago. My sole aim has been to stop other people being influenced to take their own life.”
Joe Nihill, 23, died in 2020 and left a note asking his family to get the forum shut down.
His mother Catherine Adenekan and sister-in-law Melanie Saville said other internet service providers should follow Sky Broadband’s example.
“It’s really important to us both, as it means access is becoming limited to prevent others… finding it – which is a step in the right direction.”
The BBC identified Lamarcus Small as one the of the creators of the site and tracked him down to his home in Huntsville, Alabama, in the US. He refused to answer any questions, but an account associated with Mr Small on the controversial platform “Kiwi Farms” has since posted about the BBC’s findings.
“The UK wants to block the site and pretend that this is going to help things, when it won’t,” the post says, continuing: “Chasing me down to the ends of the earth to harass me isn’t going to solve the mental health crisis, nor would shutting the site down.”
Responding to the post, Mr Parfett added: “These people encourage others to die and celebrate death, they have no place in a civilised society.”
The government’s controversial Online Safety Bill, which aims to make the internet safer, became law last week – giving the regulator, Ofcom, further jurisdiction.
In a statement Ofcom told BBC News: “If services don’t comply, we’ll have a broad range of enforcement powers at our disposal to ensure they’re held accountable”.
Image caption, Joe Nihill exchanged messages with other forum users who coached him on the most effective way to die
In a further development, digital music streaming service Spotify has moved to disable what is called a “social login” button on the forum.
A “social login” allows users of an app to use their existing username and password to register or log on to a third party website, using a simple click button.
BBC News discovered the Spotify “social login” button on the pro-suicide forum and approached the music app for comment.
Spotify says the feature was enabled by a third party developer, without the company’s knowledge, violating their terms of agreement. It said: “Once we were alerted to this matter, we removed access for the site in question immediately and the button no longer works.”
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