Messages from the ‘ghetto of the online world’ still touch me – Molly Russell’s father

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Schoolgirl Molly Russell’s father has said during an inquest that seeing the material she watched from the ‘ghetto of the online world’ still touches him today.

Ian Russell was taken through a variety of posts she engaged in on social media, which were described by the family’s lawyer as a “litany of self-loathing”.

Five years after her death, a packed coroner in north London was shown material Molly had viewed, including emails sent to her from Pinterest with the headings “18 depression pins you might like” and “new ideas for you in depression.” ‘.

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Russell said the material his daughter was exposed to on the internet was “appalling”, adding that he was “absolutely shocked at how … readily available” on a public platform to people over 13.

Molly, from Harrow, in north-west London, took her own life in November 2017, prompting her family to campaign for better internet safety.

Her father echoed his desire for reform in a pen portrait, urging social media giants to “take all necessary steps to avoid wasting such a young life again”.

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Ian Russell gave testimony from the witness stand on Wednesday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

(PA wire)

Testifying on the witness stand on Wednesday, Mr Russell said of the material the teenager had been dealing with: “It’s just the bleakest world. It’s not a world I recognize.

“It’s a ghetto of the online world.”

Russell said the “algorithms” then recommended similar content.

Coroner Andrew Walker asked Mr Russell if it was fair to describe it as “a world of despair”.

Mr Russell replied, “Absolutely.”

The teen’s father was taken by his testimony, which read: “I also took a quick look at Molly’s YouTube account and saw a … pattern – lots of normal teenage ‘likes’ and ‘follows’, but a similarly high number of worrying posts about anxiety depression, self-harm and suicide.

“On the family computer, I saw that Molly continued to receive emails from another social media platform, Pinterest, after her death.

“I was shocked to see that the subject lines of the emails were clearly promoting depressing content.”

The family’s attorney, Oliver Sanders KC, said the posts Molly kept on Pinterest were “romanticizing self-injury” and were something people should “keep to themselves.”

Mr Russell replied: “Absolutely. Even though I’ve seen this one before, seeing it again still touches me now. And this is only September 5. This is just a fraction of what Molly saw on a daily basis.”

The coroner continued to take the 59-year-old through his statement, in which he said he believed Molly’s change in behavior was due to “normal teenage mood swings”.

His words, read during the inquest, said the family began to notice a change in Molly’s behavior in the last 12 months of her life, when she “became more withdrawn and spent more time alone in her room, but she still happily contributed to family life”.

Earlier on Wednesday, the inquest heard how her mother Janet found her daughter’s body on the morning of her death.

In a statement read on her behalf by Mr Sanders, Ms Russell said she screamed when she discovered Molly and told her other daughter, “It’s Molly, it’s Molly” when she asked what had happened.

Mr Russell began performing CPR on her before the ambulance arrived and pronounced her dead.

Mr Sanders also read out a statement from a former Metropolitan Police officer, in which he said Molly had been following a now-suspended Twitter account that “displays depressing quotes”.

Police detective Michael Walker said the teen was also an “ardent fan” of American influencer and YouTube star Salice Rose, who, the court heard, regularly speaks of “suicide and depression.”

The judicial investigation, which could last up to two weeks, continues.

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