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16yo Sarawak teen committed suicide after Instagram poll told her to kill herself

A 16-year-old teenager was found dead, believed to have fallen from the third floor of a shop lot in Kuching after she conducted an online poll to decide if she should kill herself or not, the Malay Mail reported.

According to online news portal Astro Awani, Padawan district police chief Supt Aidil Bolhassan said the teenager had conducted the voting via Instagram.

“As many as 69% of the teenager’s followers on Instagram had supported the decision for her to kill herself via a poll which was uploaded at around 3pm yesterday,” Aidil said.

The teen had reportedly posted on the Instagram poll, “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L”.

D” reportedly meant “die” while “L” stands for “live”.

The teen had also uploaded a Facebook status that read: ‘WANNA QUIT F**KING LIFE I’M TIRED.’

“The teenager was believed to have felt stressed when her stepfather married a Vietnamese woman and seldom returned to their home,” Aidil was quoted as saying.

Her body was found at about 8pm by a member of the public who then reported the discovery to the Batu Kawa Police Station.

Aidil said the body was brought to the Sarawak General Hospital Forensic Department for a post-mortem, which was scheduled to take place this evening.

No criminal elements were detected at the scene and the case has been classified as sudden death, he added.

Those who encouraged her should be held accountable

Concerned by the influence that social media has on the youth, lawyer and Penang MP, Ramkarpal Singh urged the authorities to look into charging those who voted for her to die for abetting a suicide.

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He 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.”

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.”

“We have a deep responsibility…” say Instagram

Ching Yee Wong, Head of Communications, Instagram APAC, told The Guardian: “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.”

Reach out

In Malaysia, suicide helpline Befrienders offers free and confidential support 24 hours a day via 03-79568145