Authorities, NGOs react after teen’s Instagram suicide poll

15 May 2019 / 22:39 H.

PETALING JAYA: In what is understood to be a first in Malaysia, a teenager is believed to have killed herself today after receiving the “nod” from people on social media.

The 16-year-old had started a poll on Instagram asking people to help her decide whether she should live or die.

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”.

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.

Aidil said in a statement today the girl also posted on Facebook that she wanted to end her life.

He said initial investigations did not reveal any indication of foul play, and based on an interview with her mother, the girl had been unhappy about her stepfather rarely returning home as he is said to be working in Singapore.

In an immediate reaction, Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Prof Dr Ng Chong Guan said parents and caregivers of teenagers need to start taking children with mental health issues seriously.

“Otherwise, they will get all their answers from the virtual world rather than someone taking care of them or beside them,“ he said.

“These days, when they have issues to deal with, they don’t go to the people closest to them in the real world. They prefer the virtual world, which they think is more reliable and approachable.”

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said the ministry has come out with tips for internet safety, anti-bullying and kindness campaigns to help youngsters deal with mental health issues.

“A lot of young people are given gadgets at a very young age but gadgets often come with a lot of exposure to shaming and name-calling. They may not be suitable for the young, and that is why family support is so important,“ she said.

Meanwhile, Befrienders KL executive director Kenny Lim said teenagers should learn to control what they post on social media and take a break from it once they have reached their limit.

“People should also be on the lookout for warning signs like if teenagers are verbally expressing suicidal thoughts, posting it on social media, loss of interest in their usual activities, and changes in eating and sleeping patterns,“ he said.

He also urged those who are feeling suicidal to call the Befrienders KL at 03-7956 8145, a 24-hour hotline that offers free and confidential support.

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