A fresh crackdown is needed on websites offering youngsters advice on how to commit suicide, a South Wales MP warned last night.

Madeleine Moon welcomed a tightening of the law last year to make assisting or encouraging suicide a criminal offence.

But the Bridgend MP said the move needed to be extended to cover the whole of the European Union.

"We now urgently need to address the legal status of those sites on a European level, so that we can increase our control over them and prevent them from reaching out and damaging the lives of people across the UK," Ms Moon said.

The use of websites offering advice to teenagers on how to take their own lives came to light after a spate of suicides in 2007 and 2008 in the Bridgend area.

The deaths prompted a media furore over whether teenagers were using the web to plan and discuss methods of killing themselves, although police at the time insisted there was no evidence of links to the Bridgend cases.

Ministers believe the recent change in the law has provided greater clarity, but concede some internet service providers (ISPs) are slow to remove harmful content when alerted by the authorities.

One option being considered is naming and shaming ISPs which do not comply promptly with calls for pro-suicide websites to be taken down.

Paul Burstow, the Health Minister, said: "The Government continues to work with internet service providers through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety to remove harmful or illegal content.

"We continue to work with search engine providers, encouraging them to link only to appropriate, supportive websites when somebody uses 'suicide' as a search term."

But banning all discussion of suicide from sites such as Facebook or Twitter "risks driving them (teenagers) to parts of the internet that are far less safe and certainly not moderated, so more harm could be done".

Ms Moon also warned that the number of suicides among adults could rise as more people lost their jobs or became homeless.

"Running through too many incidents are worries about money and debt and the loss of status and esteem often associated with unemployment and fears about a house or job loss," said Ms Moon.

"Increases in personal debt, bankruptcy, homelessness and unemployment that can follow can substantially increase the incidences of suicide and self-harm."

The Samaritans said working class men in their 30s, 40s and 50s were the most likely to die by suicide, and last month the charity launched a new campaign to target the group, backed by rugby referee Nigel Owens.