In Malaysia, a 16-year-old teenager reportedly took her own life after setting up a poll on popular social media site Instagram asking her followers to vote on whether she should live or die, reported The Guardian. Police investigating her death say that 69 percent of the votes said that she should die.
The schoolgirl allegedly jumped to her death from a three-story building in Kuching on the island of Borneo around 8 p.m. on Tuesday, occurring just hours after she reportedly posted “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L” on Instagram.
District police Chief Aidil Bolhassan commented on the teen’s apparent suicide, claiming that she had a history of depression.
“We are conducting a post-mortem to determine whether there were other factors in her death.”
In addition to the Instagram poll, Bolhassan said that she also left a concerning message on her Facebook page, writing “WANNA QUIT F****** LIFE I’M TIRED.”
Despite the 69 percent of Instagram users who had voted for “D” (death) before the girl took her own life, by the end of the 24-hour period when the poll ended, an overwhelming 88 percent had voted for “L” (life). However, this number could have been skewed by the news of her suicide.
Lawmakers distressed over teen suicide believed spurred by Instagram poll https://t.co/LhrkUsGYFh— Malay Mail (@malaymail) May 15, 2019
The case is calling on Malaysian lawmakers to investigate further into the situation and the role of social media in the girl’s death.
Ramkarpal Singh, a lawyer and member of parliament, has stated that anyone who voted for her to die could be 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? Would she have heeded the advice of netizens to seek professional help had they done so?”
In Malaysia, abetting the suicide of a minor could lead to the death penalty or up to a 20-year jail sentence and a fine.
Wong Ching Yee, Instagram’s head of communications in the Asia-Pacific, commented on the case and spoke on behalf of the photo-sharing platform. She extended sympathies toward the family of the teenage girl on behalf of Instagram and acknowledged that the social media site has a responsibility to keep their users safe and make them feel supported.
“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 behavior that puts people’s safety at risk.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.