Psychiatrist ‘haunted’ by material viewed by Molly Russell

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Dr Navin Venugopal said the “distressing” material would have made the depressed 14-year-old feel “more hopeless”. He added it was vital to remember “children are not adults” – and adult content should not be available to children online.

Molly killed herself at her home in Harrow, north London, in November 2017 after viewing social media material on suicide, self-harm, anxiety and depression.

Coroner Andrew Walker questioned Dr Venugopal about the impact on her of the bleak and graphic images.

Mr Walker said at North London Coroner’s Court: “This material seems to romanticise, glamorise and take the subject of self-harm away from reality, and make it seem almost unreal, take away from these terrible acts any kind of consequence.

“You have looked at the material, do you think that the material that Molly viewed had any impact on her state of mind?”

Dr Venugopal replied: “I had to see it over a short period of time and it was very disturbing, distressing. There were periods where I was not able to sleep well for a c Especial few weeks so bearing in mind that the child saw this over a period of months I can only say that she was [affected]. “Especially bearing in mind that she was a depressed 14-year-old. “It would certainly affect her, and made her feel more hopeless.” The coroner continued: “Can you see any positive benefit for that material being looked at?”

Dr Venugopal answered: “No I do not.”

Oliver Sanders KC, representing Molly’s family, told the inquest a “rather unpleasant” Instagram account has been set up using an image of Molly as its profile picture.

He took Dr Venugopal through Instagram videos viewed by her.

This was followed by a note which had been written by the teenager on her phone two days after she had watched one clip, which used “identical language” to the content.

Dr Venugopal told the court: “If they are of that mindset and are seeing these sorts of things, it could have an impact.” The head of health and well-being at Instagram’s parent company Meta and the head of community operations at image sharing and social media service Pinterest have both apologised at the inquest for content that Molly had viewed.

Meta executive Elizabeth Lagone said she believed that posts which the Russell family have argued “encouraged” suicide were safe when the teenager viewed them.

Pinterest’s Judson Hoffman told the inquest that the site had not been “safe” when Molly accessed it.

The inquest continues.

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