Police have uncovered an Instagram “suicide” chat group involving 12 girls that led to “serious self-harm”.
Officers found the social media group while investigating the disappearance of three members who had discussed suicide, according to a police briefing seen by the BBC.
Police said the girls took the train to London and were later found seriously ill before an ambulance rushed them to hospital, the report added.
Members of the closed Instagram group, which had a direct message thread mentioning “suicide", were aged from 12 to 16, the BBC said.
Some of them had also met on other social media apps.
The police document published on 25 March added “peer-to-peer influence increased suicidal ideation amongst the children involved to the extent that several escalated to suicidal crises and serious self-harm”.
In total seven of the 12 girls in the group had harmed themselves in the past.
All the members have now been identified, and seven local authority children's social care services are involved in safeguarding them.
Instagram launched technology to spot suicide and self-harm content in November 2020.
But the app’s parent company Facebook said the group’s content had not broken rules.
Facebook did not deny the word “suicide” was referenced in the name of the closed Instagram group.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “Mental health, suicide and self-harm are serious issues with devastating consequences, and our deepest sympathies are with anyone affected by them.
"We are cooperating with the police on this important investigation and reviewed reports but found no content that broke our rules, nor in fact any suicide or self-harm related content.
"We don’t allow graphic content, or content that promotes or encourages suicide or self-harm, and will remove it when we find it. We’ll continue to support the police and will respond to any valid legal request for information.”
Molly Russell, 14, killed herself after viewing graphic images on Instagram, which raised concerns over the impact of some of the app’s content.
For confidential emotional support at times of distress, contact The Samaritans at any time by calling 116 123 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org