The recent suicide of a 16yo girl from Kuching after posting a poll on Instagram that saw 69% of participants voting for her to die has caused an uproar across Malaysia, and rightfully so. Social media has always been a powerful tool, but one with the potential to do great good but also to cause great harm, and this case has brought that power into the public spotlight.
Free Malaysia Today reports that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has said those who voted for the girl to die in the poll may face a 20-year jail term and a fine. In a statement released on their Facebook page, the MCMC reminded the public that Section 305 of the Penal Code makes inciting a person below 18 to commit suicide a crime, and as such the police are currently investigating if there were elements of inciting involved in the case.
The commission also urged the public to use social media responsibly, and to act and make a report to the police should they believe one of their friends is demonstrating suicidal behaviour. They are also advised them to follow up that report by informing close family members or close friends who can help.
This statement comes on the heels of the revelation that the girl had not actually given her friends context in her poll, with the caption reading, “Really important help me choose – D/L”. Additionally, Reuters reported that Instagram’s Asia Pacific head of communications Wong Ching Yee said that the poll closed at 88% of votes for L, or life, though Padawan police district chief Aidil Bolhassan noted that the numbers could have changed as netizens became aware of the news.
Wong also extended Instagram’s condolences to the family, saying,
“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”
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq has also called for more attention on mental health problems among the youth, tweeting, “I am genuinely worried about the state of our youth’s mental health. It’s a national issue which must be taken seriously. A national discussion must take place.”
We couldn’t agree more.
If you or someone you know are having depressed and suicidal thoughts, reach out to Befrienders KL at 603-79568145, or visit their website for more information. Additionally, content that is offensive, indecent or leads to cyberbullying can be reported to the MCMC at [email protected] or via WhatsApp at 016-2206 262. You are never alone.