The British law on suicide is to be clarified as part of an attempt to curb so called "suicide Web sites", but the government was unable to say how it would be enforced.

The move is an attempt to reassure the public that the existing law applies to the Internet following alarm at Web sites which carry details of how youngsters have killed themselves.

It is illegal under the Suicide Act of 1961 to promote suicide, but no Web site operator has been prosecuted under the Act.

Maria Eagle, a junior justice department minister, said the government intended to amend the law to make it clear that it applied online as well as offline.

"There is no magic solution to protecting vulnerable people online," Eagle said. "Updating the language of the Suicide Act, however, should help to reassure people that the Internet is not a lawless environment and that we can meet the challenges of the digital world.

"It is important, particularly in an area of such wide public interest and concern, for the law to be expressed in terms that everyone can understand."

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