Prince William shared an important message after Molly Russell’s cause of death was determined.
On Friday, an inquest revealed that social media played a part in the London teenager’s death after she took her own life in 2017. Russell was only 14-years-old.
“No parent should ever have to endure what Ian Russell [Molly’s father] and his family have been through. They have been so incredibly brave,” the Prince of Wales tweeted. “Online safety for our children and young people needs to be a prerequisite, not an afterthought.”
William, 40, concluded the tweet with the letter “W,” an indicator that the message came directly from the royal.
No parent should ever have to endure what Ian Russell and his family have been through. They have been so incredibly brave. Online safety for our children and young people needs to be a prerequisite, not an afterthought. W
— The Prince and Princess of Wales (@KensingtonRoyal) September 30, 2022
The inquest, led by Coroner Andrew Walker, disclosed that Molly had consumed an alarming amount of online content, including images of self-harm and suicide, on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, which used algorithms to show Molly the images without her seeking them herself.
Walker stressed that the content “shouldn’t have been available for a child to see”.
“It’s likely the material viewed by Molly… affected her mental health in a negative way and contributed to her death in a more than minimal way,” Walker said. “It would not be safe to leave suicide as a conclusion. She died from an act of self-harm while suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content.”
The coroner added that he’s working on a report centered on the “prevention of future deaths,” which he intends to send to the British government, Ofcom — the U.K.’s communications regulator — and social media platforms.
Following the inquest, Ian Russel, Molly’s father, called out online sites seeking change, especially requesting that children’s safety be prioritized.
“It’s time to protect our innocent young people instead of allowing [social media] platforms to prioritize their profits by monetizing the misery of children,” he plead.
NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless also voiced his own thoughts.
“This should send shockwaves through Silicon Valley — tech companies must expect to be held to account when they put the safety of children second to commercial decisions,” Wanless said via a statement.
William, an active advocate for mental health, has been following the story since Molly’s devastating death. In 2019, the future King wrote a letter to the family after the first inquest into her death. At the time, a royal source told People that William wanted to “get in touch and offer sympathy and show support.”