This week we heard the very sad news that a young mother from Godre’rgraig near Swansea was found unconscious in her home and later died in hospital due to a suspected drug overdose.

Paige Goldup had been fitted with PIP implants and was due to have replacement surgery on the NHS (which is free of charge for women in Wales).  She used the social networking site Twitter to voice her concerns about her forthcoming surgery and express her anxiety at the thought that her implants may have ruptured.

Though her family do not believe that having PIP implants was the only factor that led her to her tragic death, she was clearly extremely worried and fearful about the possible consequences of a rupture.  We know this because her fears were documented and accessible to the world via a social networking site.

This week Facebook has closed several PIP-related group pages and forums much to the disappointment and anger of those women who belong to these online PIP support communities.  But just how important a role do social networking sites play for women affected by the PIP implant scandal?

We all know that having a strong social network in times of difficulty and stress helps us to make it through the tough times.  It doesn’t matter what the cause – a bad day at the office, financial worries, illness, family quarrels etc – having people to share your worries with, who understand what you’re going through, is critically important.

The benefits of having a social support network are well documented.  Research shows that the sense of belonging and feelings of security that they help create contribute significantly to overall psychological well-being. 

Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace are important because they help people to develop a supportive network and build relationships with others without the need to organise or attend regular meetings.  They transcend geographical constraints and unite people from all over the county and across the world.  A social networking site gives people instant access to advice, information, and guidance from other people in similar circumstances.  They are places to be heard, to vent frustrations, share stories, compare experiences and receive encouragement and support.

According to a study conducted by The Pew Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the number of adults using social networking sites has nearly doubled since 2008.  It was discovered that 92% of social networking users are on Facebook compared with 29% on MySpace, and 13% on Twitter.  Furthermore, 52% of Facebook users use the site everyday compared with 33% on Twitter and 7% on MySpace.

The study also found that Facebook users tend to have more close relationships and overall more social support than non-social networking site users people.  On average most adults have two people with whom they discuss matters of importance.  People who use Facebook several times a day (which 31% of Facebook users do) have approximately 9% more close personal ties in their entire social network than other internet users.

Again, internet users report higher scores when rating how much support they receive in key areas such as emotional support, companionship and physical help.  Facebook users, who use the site several times a day, consistently scored even higher across all areas.  It was calculated that the additional support Facebook users receive from belonging to online communities, through group support pages and forums, is equal to half the total amount of support that an average person receives through being married or cohabiting with a partner.

Clearly being part of an online PIP implant support group can have a significant impact on the health and happiness of an individual.  It is therefore a shame that Facebook has taken the decision to remove some of the PIP groups.  However, the sense of solidarity amongst affected women seems to be stronger than ever and new separate forums are springing up in order to keep the PIP community spirit alive.

If you would like to contact a member of Slee Blackwell’s PIP team for free independent legal advice on any of the issues raised by your PIP claim you can find Sam RobsonCaroline Hudson  and Jenny Hall on Facebook.  Please send us a private message or post your enquiry on our walls and we’ll get in touch with you. 

You can also reach us at or via our website    If you prefer to call us our number is 0808 1391592 and we will call you back on a no obligation basis. 

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