16-year-old girl kills herself after Instagram poll sees 69% vote in favor of her committing suicide
The body of the teen, whose name has not been made public, was found at around 8 pm at the foot of a three-story shop in the city of Kuching on the island of Borneo
A 16-year-old killed herself in Malaysia on Tuesday, May 14, after posting a poll on her account on Instagram asking her followers if she should commit suicide. A majority voted that she should.
According to the Daily Mail, the body of the teen, whose name has not been made public, was found at around 8 pm at the foot of a three-story shop in the city of Kuching on the island of Borneo.
Police in the eastern Malaysian state of Sarawak said she took the drastic decision after she posted the poll on the popular social media website with the message: "Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L." In response, 69% voted for 'D' (death).
It also emerged that she had posted a message on Facebook which said, "WANNA QUIT F****** LIFE I'M TIRED."
Speaking about the incident, district police chief Aidil Bolhassan said the teen had suffered from a history of depression, something local news agencies said stemmed from the fact that her stepfather had married a Vietnamese woman and rarely returned home.
He also announced that they were conducting a postmortem to determine whether there were other factors in her death, but other officers have confirmed that her death was not being viewed as suspicious.
Her death has prompted some to suggest that those who voted for her to die should be found guilty of abetting suicide.
"Would the girl still be alive today if the majority of netizens on her Instagram account discouraged her from taking her own life?" said Ramkarpal Singh, a lawyer and MP in the north-western state of Penang. "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 offense in this country, it follows that abetting one to attempt suicide may be, too," he added.
The Mail reported that, under Malaysian law, anyone convicted of abetting suicide of a minor might face up to 20 years in jail and a fine or even the death penalty.
In light of the teen's death, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the country's youth and sports minister, has called for a sharper focus on mental health. "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."
Ching Yee Wong, Head of Communications, Instagram APAC said that, after a review of the teen's poll, which ran over a 24-hour period, they found it ended with 88% votes for 'Life.' However, that finding was contested by Bolhassan, who said the poll's numbers had possibly changed after the news of the death spread.
Back in February, following the death of British teenager Molly Russell, who is believed to have killed herself after she was exposed to images of suicide and self-harm on the app, Instagram announced it will launch "sensitivity screens" to block such images.
In light of this most recent death, Wong expressed his condolences and said the company had a "deep responsibility to make sure people using Instagram feel safe and supported" and urged people to use the app's reporting tools and contact emergency services if they see any behavior that puts people’s safety at risk.