Those who incited a 16-year-old girl in Sarawak to commit suicide, based on a poll on her Instagram on whether she should live or die, may be liable to 20 years’ jail.
Sarawakians are calling for the police to investigate and charge the Instagram respondents who allegedly “pushed” a Kuching girl to suicide on Monday night.
They have reacted in horror after finding that the majority of the teenager’s followers had responded to her Instagram poll when she was trying to reach out for help, by telling her to choose death over life.
Numerous messages of condolences have appeared on the teen’s Instagram account, with many reacting angrily and slamming those who had told her to choose death over life.
In what is understood to be a first in Malaysia, the teenager is believed to have killed herself after receiving the “nod” from people on social media.
The teenage girl had started a poll on Instagram asking people to help her decide whether she should live or die.
Reportedly, a total of 69% voted in favour of her killing herself. She then leapt from three storeys to her death.
Padawan police chief Supt Aidil Bolhassan said a check on the teenager’s Instagram account showed she started the poll at 3pm on Monday under the heading “REALLY IMPORTANT. Help Me Choose D/L”.
Media reports from Sarawak quoted a close friend of the deceased as saying “D/L” meant “death or life”.
However, Reuters had a different version of the poll on Instagram.
The news agency reported that Instagram had reviewed the teenager’s account and found that the online poll, which ran over a 24-hour period, ended with 88% votes for “L” (life), said Wong Ching Yee, Instagram’s head of communications in the Asia-Pacific.
Padawan district police chief Aidil Bolhassan, however, told Reuters that the poll’s numbers may have changed after news of the girl’s death spread.
In February, Instagram banned graphic images and content related to self-harm from its platform, citing a need to keep vulnerable users safe, Reuters said.
The changes came following pressure from the parents of a British teenager, who believed that viewing Instagram accounts related to self-harm and depression contributed to their daughter’s suicide in 2017.
A passerby saw the girl’s body near a commercial block in Batu Kawah New Township in Kuching at about 8pm the same day and alerted the police.
She is believed to have jumped out of her third-floor apartment at MJC Batu Kawah.
Aidil said in a statement today the girl also posted on Facebook that she wanted to end her life.
The teen reportedly came from a broken home and her parents were divorced.
According to the Sarawak Tribune, both the girl’s Indonesian mother and father have remarried.
Police said based on an interview with her mother, the girl had been unhappy about her father rarely returning home after marrying a Vietnamese woman. He reportedly works in Singapore.
Her mother remarried a man with a 15-year-old son. Before May 13, her step-brother had asked her out for dinner, but she reportedly declined.
Politician and state rights activist Lina Soon asked “what is our society coming to” as she reacted to the report that 69% of the respondents told the girl she should choose death.
“Depression is an illness. She needed professional help.
“You will have to live with your conscience. If you don’t have a conscience, you are not human,” she said in apparent reference to the respondents.
Local DAP leader Abdul Aziz Isa also called for the police to investigate the Instagram respondents and charge them under Section 306 of the Penal Code for aiding and abetting suicide.
The penalty, if they are found guilty under the section, is a 10-year jail sentence and a fine upon conviction.
“To classify the case as sudden death at this stage may not be the right decision without further investigations,” Aziz said.
He said since a suicide attempt is an offence in this country, similarly abetting one to attempt suicide, or suicide, is similarly an offence.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said offenders may be liable to 20 years’ jail under Section 305 of the Penal Code which states it is wrong to incite someone aged below 18 to commit suicide.
“In this matter, MCMC is ready to provide any technical help needed by the police,” it said in a statement to FMT.
The MCMC added social media is a platform for users, including teenagers, to communicate and to seek information. As such, users should act responsibly while using the internet.
The MCMC has also advised against spreading images of the deceased.
It urged more sensitivity for the girl’s grieving family.
Meanwhile, the Padawan police, which are investigating the death of the girl are no longer giving investigation updates “at the request of the family”.
“Family of (the) deceased requested (that we) not share about this case,” Padawan police chief Supt Aidil Bolhassan said.
Earlier report: May 15, Distress over Teen Suicide Believed Spurred by Instagram Poll