Girl saw social media posts ‘too disturbing for police’ before taking her own life

A schoolgirl browsed social media-posts about suicide and self-harm too disturbing for police to look at for extended periods of time, a coroner’s court heard.

Before Molly Russell took her own life in 2017 she viewed content online linked to depression, anxiety and suicide.

The 14-year-old viewed a lot of ‘pretty dreadful’ Instagram posts which have now been handed over by parent company Facebook to lawyers investigating her death.

Since his daughter’s death, Ian Russell has been a vocal campaigner for reform of social media platforms and set up the Molly Rose Foundation in her memory.

In a report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists published in January, he said: “Among the usual school friends, pop groups and celebrities followed by 14-year-olds, we found bleak depressive material, graphic self-harm content and suicide encouraging memes.

“I have no doubt that social media helped kill my daughter.”

Molly’s parents began delving into her social media account after her death.

One account featured an image of blindfolded girl who had bleeding eyes and was hugging a bear.

A caption beneath it read: “This world is so cruel, and I don’t wanna to see it any more.”

Molly’s family have said she had previously shown “no obvious signs” of severe mental health issues.

On Friday a pre-inquest review into the death of the teenager at Barne Ctoroner’s Court, Oliver Sanders QC spoke of how distressing some of the posts were.

He said: “We haven’t be able to review it all yet, some of it is pretty dreadful and it is not something that can be reviewed in a long sitting and certainly not late at night.”

Parts of the material had been redacted, leaving police and lawyers for Molly’s family trying to get more information from the social media giant as to why.

The inquest is set to look at how the algorithms used by social media giants to keep users hooked may have contributed to her death.

The court heard that the investigation was seeking the cooperation of five social media companies, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Mr Sanders said Snapchat could not disclose data without an order from a US court, WhatsApp has deleted Molly’s account and that Twitter was reluctant to hand over material due to European data protection laws.

Until recently, only Pinterest had cooperated fully, Mr Sanders said, disclosing about 10,000 pages of material.

After two years of waiting for permission the police were able to download around 5,000 pages of material from Molly’s iPhone, including WhatsApp messages from her now-deleted account, the court heard.

Mr Walker also asked that a psychologist with expertise in the potential psychological impacts viewing extreme material would have on a teenager be booked to come in and give evidence.

A further pre-inquest review was listed for November 26 at 2pm, while the date of the inquest itself is yet to be set.

Molly’s father Ian was seated in court.

Ian set up the Molly Rose Foundation to help prevent suicide in under-25s by connecting those struggling with relevant support.