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Do Online Support Groups Have An Obligation To Help?

While there are a number of online support groups that help people suffering from disorders ranging from anorexia and bulimia to suicide and bipolar disorder who are staffed and run by well-meaning people who want to help others, there are others who don't. They offer tips for anorexics to fight hunger and how to burn extra calories and pretend that they are in recovery when they are not.

These sites will show suicidal people ways to kill themselves complete with indexed methods and diagrams. Other people on these sites will encourage suicidal people to kill themselves, anorexics to stop eating and bulimics to eat and purge. In short, they're a different kind of support group. An unhealthy kind.

But these sites claim that they're just offering a community to those who otherwise feel alone in a world that doesn't understand them. The people who run the sites claim that no one can develop an eating disorder from visiting a website and certainly do try to mention the drawbacks and health problems of having eating disorders, such as dry skin. The sites are littered with disclaimers, disavowing the site owner from any psychological damage from visiting the site.

One cannot deny that it's a space where people can meet and exchange ideas about how better to lose weight, purge, or commit suicide. While it's certainly a disturbing thing to think about when you're on the outside, is it really the responsibility of the site owner to provide a healthy, non-damaging place for people to congregate and discuss their disorders?

Who has the responsibility to police the Internet for content such as this and pull it down if it's deemed in appropriate? Is it inappropriate?
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  • Kanada 2010/01/07 09:26:33 (edited)
    Kanada
    Your asking a question about policing the internet and using pro SI sites as a bases for why we should address this matter. This makes the assumption that pro-si sites should be taken down. I disagree with that idea.

    Why?

    All of these sites have one thing in common; they all get the most depressed people on the internet talking to people. Not just talking but socializing. A community can do more to help some one with a mental illness in many cases then any drug ever could. All though these communities are fundamentally unhealthy they are often a step up from what their members are accustom. Getting an individual primed sharing there thoughts and feelings with others is super duper important for recovery. Specifically with the aforementioned disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia, and Depression) breaking the intensely introverted "destructive" habits is the bulk of recovery. This is not easy to foster in some one that is convinced they are completely alone. So, if for no other reason, they should stay up.

    You, also, have to take in to account the individual nature of each web site. Some are broken up into many sections so that the pro-(S)elf (I)njury and SI recovery groups are simi-segregated. A user can make an account on the site and talk with like minded individuals regardless of wha...










    Your asking a question about policing the internet and using pro SI sites as a bases for why we should address this matter. This makes the assumption that pro-si sites should be taken down. I disagree with that idea.

    Why?

    All of these sites have one thing in common; they all get the most depressed people on the internet talking to people. Not just talking but socializing. A community can do more to help some one with a mental illness in many cases then any drug ever could. All though these communities are fundamentally unhealthy they are often a step up from what their members are accustom. Getting an individual primed sharing there thoughts and feelings with others is super duper important for recovery. Specifically with the aforementioned disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia, and Depression) breaking the intensely introverted "destructive" habits is the bulk of recovery. This is not easy to foster in some one that is convinced they are completely alone. So, if for no other reason, they should stay up.

    You, also, have to take in to account the individual nature of each web site. Some are broken up into many sections so that the pro-(S)elf (I)njury and SI recovery groups are simi-segregated. A user can make an account on the site and talk with like minded individuals regardless of what stage of recovery they are in. These sites allow users to stay in their online community when they take on recovery as a personal goal and when they relapse.

    Others are just pro SI and these tend not to last long because the site owners are often people with the disorder the site is sponsoring and they either die, end up in the hospital, or recover and take down the site. While a pro-si site is up it's users often see them self's as members of a subculture and again get that vital community aspect.

    As for Bipolar disorder, it is one of the most common misdiagnoses, It's up there with ADD/ADHD. All though people with Bipolar Type One, the rarest form, can not self regulate with out medication end of story. Those with types two and NOS are often more capable of self regulation with limited or in some cases no medication at all. It is note worthy that the later two types are where the bulk of misdiagnoses are. My point is that sites that encourage people with Bipolar to stop taking their medication play a vital role in helping the misdiagnosed get the proper treatment. Also part of treating some one with type one is helping them to understand it is "never" a good idea to stop taking their medication and they often figure this out only after doing it a few times.

    Finally, we arrive at weather or not these sites are covered by free speech and I would say they are. If the court system said that it wasn't covered by free speech and then where to successfully take down and block access to these sites the suicide attempts in this country would sky rocket. I would put money on that.

    Back to the point of policing the internet. No one needs to. The FBI actively policies the people who use it. The only way to make laws that don't infringe on freedom of speech is to make laws about what kind stuff people can have on any medium. As they are today more or less. I.E. taking or knowingly possessing pictures of a naked person who did not consent to being photographed naked is illegal if it's a photograph on film or a jpeg in a SD card the crime is the same.

    The internet is the worlds largest privet network and no government really has the right to say what goes on here unless it breaks a laws of the real world.
    (more)
  • Kathy 2010/01/05 05:20:55
    Kathy
    I haven't a clue but if you find out, I stumbled upon this one about a year ago. Not only did it horrify me, it's scary knowing these kinds are out there. I did a story on the care2 network and found out from others, something about this is a prediction about coming events. Scary scary stuff.
    Thank you Becky

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    Butchering the Human Carcass for Human Consumption
    by Bob Arson
    This is a step-by-step guide on how to break down the human body from the full figure into serviceable choice cuts of meat. As in any field, there are a number of methods to the practice, and you may wish to view this as a set of suggestions rather than concrete rules. You will notice that the carving of the larger or "commercial" cuts down into smaller specific or "retail" cuts will be only mentioned in passing, and not concentrated upon. Also, the use of human fat and viscera is generally avoided, and left only to the most experimental chef. These choices, along with recipes and serving suggestions, are nearly infinite in variety, and we leave them to you. We've found these guidelines to be simple and functional, but recognize that there is always room for improvement and we welcome your suggestions.
  • Becky S... Kathy 2010/01/05 16:31:02
    Becky Sherrick Harks
    +1
    Oh. My. God. I just. Oh. My. Holy shit. That's awful. TERRIFYING.
  • Kazenra Kathy 2010/01/06 16:01:47
    Kazenra
    +1
    Wow. That's just...wow... I don't know whether to be scared or if I should stop laughing... o.o
    I think it's the shock that there is actually stuff like this on the internet, it makes me giddy...haha... ^.^'
    Sounds like good advice tho. Like something out of Silence of the Lambs...
  • Djalal-... Kazenra 2010/01/07 20:00:34
    Djalal- abdi
    +1
    yes this is true
  • Cara 2010/01/04 18:57:53
    Cara
    Here's how to damage yourself, but don't do it.
    The problem is once you give someone the authority to police something that may cause harm, you never can be sure how that body will define harm. I know you, Aunt Becky have gotten a lot of crap just from the name of your blog. That and power tends to corrupt, so even those with the best of intentions can be turned the wrong way.
  • Becky S... Cara 2010/01/04 23:37:39
    Becky Sherrick Harks
    *nods head* Well said. Personally, I can't imagine putting that stuff out there. But then again, I don't know that anyone who does that thinks they're doing any harm. I'd bet that they don't think that they do. Very interesting. Terrible, and interesting. I certainly didn't expect any backlash from naming my blog because you know what? I WAS KIDDING. No, I was. Really. A joke. And I got flogged for it. I'm not even a drinker. But it didn't matter because I was "condoning the LOL BOOZE JOKES."
  • Motherhood and Me 2010/01/03 03:19:35
    Motherhood and Me
    I agree, this is a tough grey area. They aren't breaking any laws, even though it seems like it should be breaking some law. Is it any different than a girl *ahem, like me* who learned how to make herself throw up to lose weight in high school from her best friend? They are emailing or are going to get this information to each other no matter what, but I feel like as a mother, it is my job to educate my children about these sites and these issues. (When they are older...only 3 and 1 right now!)

    Does this make any sense?
  • Becky S... Motherh... 2010/01/03 05:36:45
    Becky Sherrick Harks
    It's such a nebulous area. Very, very tricky stuff.
  • Rebecca 2010/01/02 03:11:21
    Rebecca
    I live not far from where Megan Meyers hung herself because an ADULT told her she was worthless. I'm sure you can google her name and read all about it. People are sick.
  • Becky S... Rebecca 2010/01/02 16:13:10
    Becky Sherrick Harks
    I remember that. It was terrible. Just terrible.
  • Rebecca Becky S... 2010/01/02 20:52:52
    Rebecca
    The worst part is that the woman who terrorized that poor little girl basically got off on all charges...........(If I remember correctly)
  • Becky S... Rebecca 2010/01/03 03:17:57
    Becky Sherrick Harks
    The whole situation was tragic.
  • Jennifer B 2010/01/01 18:39:49
    Jennifer B
    Well, I guess that falls under the right to free speech. One can talk about suicide if they want to. The question is... where do morals become law? We all know no one "should" allow others to get hurt intentionally, but where does it cross the line to negligence or whatever the legal term would be called? And is there some kind of police for the internet? How does that work? I thought people could just post whatever they wanted, but I guess it's up to the server? I don't know. Touchy area.
  • Becky S... Jennifer B 2010/01/02 16:14:03
    Becky Sherrick Harks
    Completely touchy grey area. I don't know how I feel. As a blogger myself, I'd certainly not want to do more harm than good, but I don't think these people feel they are doing harm. It's a really strange grey area.

About Me

Becky Sherrick Harks

Becky Sherrick Harks

Saint Charles, IL, US

2009/12/22 00:55:26

Doesn't sleep. She waits.

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