A Malaysian teenager killed herself after conducting and Instagram poll on whether she should live or die, police say.
The 16-year-old girl was found dead at the foot of a three-storey shop in the city of Kuching, on the island of Borneo, around 8pm on Tuesday.
Investigators say she had uploaded a post to her Instagram account five hours earlier saying: ‘Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L’, where ‘D’ stood for ‘die’ and ‘L’ stood for live.
Police chief Aidil Bolhassan said that 69 per cent of the teen’s followers had voted for ‘die’, prompting her to kill herself.
Bolhassan said the girl had apparently been suffering from depression, and had posted a message on Facebook which said: ‘WANNA QUIT F**KING LIFE I’M TIRED.’
Her depression seemed to stem from the fact that her stepfather had married a Vietnamese woman and seldom returned home, Bolhassan added according to news site Astro Awani.
The girl’s body has been taken for a post-mortem, but officers say the death is not being viewed as suspicious.
Her death prompted a lawyer to suggest that those who voted for her to die could be guilty of abetting suicide.
Ramkarpal Singh, a lawyer and MP in the north-western state of Penang, said: “Would the girl still be alive today if the majority of netizens on her Instagram account discouraged her from taking her own life? Would she have heeded the advice of netizens to seek professional help had they done so?
“Did the encouragement of those netizens actually influence her decision to take her own life? Since attempted suicide is an offence in this country, it follows that abetting one to attempt suicide may be, too.”
Malaysia’s youth and sports minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, said the tragedy highlighted the need for national-level discussions about mental health in the country. “I am genuinely worried about the state of our youth’s mental health,” he said. “It’s a national issue which must be taken seriously.”
In February Instagram announced that it will launch “sensitivity screens” to block images of self-harm. The move followed the death of British teenager Molly Russell, whose parents believe saw images of suicide and self-harm on the app before she took her own life in 2017, aged 14.
Ching Yee Wong, Head of Communications, Instagram APAC, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with this young woman’s family.”
“We have a deep responsibility to make sure people using Instagram feel safe and supported. As part of our own efforts, we urge everyone to use our reporting tools and to contact emergency services if they see any behaviour that puts people’s safety at risk.”
- Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day. In the UK and Irish Republic, contact Samaritans on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.