Suicide by Instagram Poll: “Do I die or live?” A first in Malaysia…

The girl had polled her Instagram followers.  “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L”, hours before committing suicide on May 13. The “D/L” meant “Death/Life”. It seemed that 69% had chosen D (Death).

However, Reuters had a different version of the poll on Instagram. It 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), quoting 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.

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17 May 2019

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 51 minutes ago

KUCHING, May 17 — Recently Malaysians were shocked over the death of a teenage girl who committed suicide after getting a 69 per cent poll result for “Death” on her Instagram account.

The local newspapers reported that the victim posted an online poll status asking her ‘Instagram Story’ followers: “Really Important, Help Me to Choose D/L.” (D stood for death while L for Life).

In addition, the victim also reportedly posted a Facebook status update in which she said: “Wanna Quit F ** king Life I’m Tired”.

Padawan district police deputy chief, DSP Merbin Lisa said based on the investigation, the girl who was known as Davia Emelia, 16, was suspected of experiencing depression.

“However, based on the statement from the victim’s mother, she did not show any behavioural change prior to the incident.

“According to her mother, the victim was close to her stepfather but since the stepfather married a Vietnamese woman, he rarely returned to Kuching to meet the victim. It caused the victim to feel sad,” he said when contacted by Bernama here today.

Mervin said the investigation was still ongoing and so far the police had obtained statements from the school and the victim’s close friends.

Yesterday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) issued a statement to advise social media users to be more attentive and sensitive to suicidal postings to prevent similar incidents from recurring.

MCMC said reports should be made directly to the police, family members and friends of the individual involved.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/05/17/mum-of-sarawakian-teen-says-daughter-showed-no-behavioural-change-prior-to/1753796

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Global debate over girl’s death

PETALING JAYA: The death of a Sarawakian teenager who posted a story on Instagram moments before taking her own life has not only garnered worldwide attention, it has increased scrutiny of social media platforms.

The 16-year-old had uploaded a post with the heading “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L”. D and L were largely taken to mean “die” and “live”.

The girl jumped to her death after 69% of pollsters supported the decision for her to kill herself.

Following a backlash, Instagram said it has put in place measures to prevent self-harm and suicide.

Instagram chiefs were questioned in the UK Parliament on Wednesday about the poll.

BBC quoted Instagram head of product Vishal Shah as telling Bri­tish lawmakers that they were looking at whether policy changes were needed.

The platform has in place a mechanism to detect self-harm thoughts and seeks to remove certain posts while offering support where app­ropriate, he said.

For example, if a user searches for the word “suicide”, a pop-up appears offering to put them in touch with organisations that can help.However, Vishal Shah said, the way people expressed mental health issues was constantly evolving, which posed a challenge.Instagram Asia Pacific communications head Wong Ching Yee said measures had been taken to provide users with suicide prevention tools and information.

These included how to report content, get support for a friend or contact experts for help, she said.

Wong explained that to build a supportive community, Instagram had taken to automatically filtering out offensive comments and adding screens to sensitive content.

“We want those struggling with mental health issues to be able to access support on Instagram when and where they need it,” she said.

The platform also works with experts to give people the tools and information they need while using the app, such as how to report content or get support for friends they are concerned about, she said.

“In Malaysia, we work with Befrienders KL,” she said in e-mail to The Star yesterday.

Instagram, she added, has teams worldwide working 24 hours a day, seven days a week reviewing reports that come in and prioritising the most serious ones like suicide.“We provide people who have expressed suicidal thoughts with a number of support options.

“For example, we prompt people to reach out to a friend and offer pre-populated text to make it easier for people to start a conversation.

“We also suggest contacting a helpline and offer other tips and resources for people to help them in that moment,” she said.

Wong said if someone posts on Facebook or Instagram about their wellbeing, other users are encouraged to reach out to the person or report the post to the admin.Facebook, which owns Instagram, has had suicide prevention tools in place for more than 10 years.

These tools were developed in collaboration with over 50 mental health organisations across the world with input from people with personal experience thinking about or attempting suicide, she said.

“In the past few years we have worked to expand these tools, enhance our review tools for live broadcast and adopt the use of AI (artificial intelligence) to help identify when someone might be expressing thoughts of suicide, respond to reports faster and improve how we identify appropriate first responders,” she added.A survey by The Star Online showed that although 43% of users spend more than three hours a day on social media, many are not too concerned with the comments they receive on these platforms.

Out of over 160 respondents,

80% said they did not go to social media to seek support for their problems.

When asked to rate how important social media comments were to them, 39% were neutral and 31% said they couldn’t be bothered.About 47% of users said they would show concern if someone posted about their problems on social media, with 40% saying they would do so sometimes and 11% saying they would not.

It was noteworthy that 15% of users knew someone who had attempted or had committed suicide due to social media comments.

The Malaysian Com­munications and Multimedia Com­mission (MCMC) urged social media users to be responsible and alert, especially when they see suicidal posts.

“If (users) find that any of their online friends are showing suicidal inclinations, a report must immediately be made to the police for further observation and action,” MCMC said in a statement on Wednesday.

It said police were verifying whether the online voting had elements of abetting the suicide, an act punishable under Section 305 of the Penal Code.

MCMC also urged Internet users to report cases of cyberbullying or inappropriate content to it.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the government was making progress in its plan to come up with a law to tackle cyberbullying.

Gobind, who mentioned the proposal of such a law in December, said discussions with various ministries and the police were ongoing and he would make an announcement when the law was ready.

He said this to reporters after distributing bubur lambuk to TM Bhd staff at Menara TM yesterday.

Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie called on the police and MCMC to bring the social media abusers to book for being complicit in the Sarawakian teenager’s suicide.

“To the cyberbullies who goaded the victim to take her own life, does your conscience not prick you, that there is blood on your fingers too?

“Immediate measures might have pre-empted the tragedy. For example, upon noticing her question, the girl’s followers should have tried to contact and dissuade her, while also informing her parents or guardians of her intentions,” said Heng.

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/05/17/global-debate-over-girls-death/#Rb8FAkYedKKscLSM.99

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PETALING JAYA: Amid public calls for action against those who voted in a teenager’s Instagram poll, lawyers say the intention to abet the victim’s suicide must first be proven.

Deepak Pillai (pic), who specialises in media and telecommunications law, said the online voting could be considered “abetment” only if it was proven that the voters knew the girl’s state of mind.

“The primary question is whether the persons who voted for her to take her own life had the necessary intent, or in other words, knew or had reasonable suspicion of the likely consequence of their actions.

“Case law has made clear that ‘instigation’ refers to active stimulation to do an act, or to goad or urge forward. This can only be ascertained with an examination of the facts in this case,” he said yesterday.

“She just put D/L. For any crime, there must be intention, opportunity and motive. So, what is it in this situation that you are saying can be construed as a crime?” she asked.

She believes the girl had struggled with depression even before her Instagram post, adding: “We need to address the fact that teenagers live in a difficult world and need help with mental health issues.”

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said counsellors were available to help students.

“Counsellors are the front line and if needed, they will recommend further professional help and even alert parents and teachers,” he said.

“Our experience tells us that people who want to kill themselves normally do not tell; they just do it.

“But if teachers see any strange behaviour, we are likely to seek out the reason why,” he said.

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/05/17/lawyers-action-can-only-be-taken-if-there-is-abetment/#QRQqlfOjOz1yXjKT.99

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PETALING JAYA: Even as suicide rates in Malaysia remain murky, mental health practitioners are calling for more urgent action to prevent suicides.

Following the suicide of a teenager in Sarawak over an Instagram post, experts are saying that discussions must be held to find ways to address suicidal posts on social media.

Malaysia Mental Health Assoc­iation president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj (pic) said an alert system must be set up on social media sites to detect posts indicating suicidal tendencies.

Social media, he said, can sometimes lead users to focus on self-image.

“This in turn leads to self-harm and suicide attempts,” he added.

However, he also acknowledged the formidable force social media can be of help to teenagers with mental health issues when used correctly.

“The best way forward is to set healthy boundaries on the use of social media that encourage empathy and understanding,” Dr Andrew said.

The National Suicide Registry reported in 2009 that there were 1.18 suicides per hundred thousand in the population, but he disputed this figure.

“Most cases are not reported as suicide; the cause of death is often not appropriately documented,” he said.

He added that a 2008 study by the World Health Organization suggested that the actual rate in Malaysia was as high as 13 per hundred thousand.

Befrienders KL executive director Kenny Lim said they received some 30,000 calls on their helpline in 2018 – an increase of 11% from the year before.

Befrienders is a not-for-profit organisation which provides emotional support at any time to people who are lonely, distressed, in despair or having suicidal thoughts.

Those in need of someone to talk to can call the Befrienders KL at 03-7956 8145, or 04-281 5161/1108 in Penang, or 05-547 7933/7955 in Ipoh or email sam@befrienders.org.my.

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/05/17/need-for-suicidal-posts-on-social-media-to-be-addressed/#imm0T2ujpMuOkkFE.99

15 May 2019

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PETALING JAYA: 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.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said offenders may be liable 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.

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.

“If anyone is inclined towards committing suicide, police should be informed immediately for further action,” it added.

It was reported that the girl jumped from the top of a shophouse after 69% of respondents asked her to choose “death”.

Sarawak police said she had put up a poll on Instagram with the question, “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L”, hours before committing suicide on May 13. The “D/L” meant “Death/Life”.

Those who incited girl to commit suicide liable to 20 years’ jail, says MCMC

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Teenage girl commits suicide after Instagram followers voted for her to die

A 16-year-old girl allegedly placed her life in the hands of her Instagram followers when she asked them if she should kill herself using an Instagram poll on her “IG story”.

She jumped down from the third floor of a Kuching shop lot in Sarawak, Malaysia after they voted ‘yes’, according to local media.

What happened

She posted a poll on her Instagram Story at around 3 pm yesterday (13 May) which wrote, “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L”. D and L stood for die and live respectively. Sixty-nine per cent of her followers chose “D” as their answer, which apparently triggered her to end her life.

It’s not certain if her followers knew her intentions were sincere or the dire consequences of that poll because at face value, it’s relatively cryptic. However, the teenager left other clues besides the Instagram poll.

On her Facebook, she wrote a post that read:

“WANNA QUIT F**KING LIFE I’ M TIRED”.

Other clues

Upon examination of her phone, the police discovered WeChat messages written in Mandarin that were sent to her friends wishing them well.

In terms of motive, police suspect that girl could have been experiencing stress at home due to her step-father marrying a Vietnamese woman in Singapore.

Moreover, it’s noted that her step-father and his new wife rarely visit the family in Sarawak.

Her body was taken to the Sarawak Forensics Hospital where the case was declared as sudden death without criminal motive.

A recent 2017 mental health survey in Malaysia revealed an ongoing mental health crisis in the country with at least 550,000 youths having contemplated suicide, that’s 10 percent of all youth in Malaysia. By 2020, depression was estimated to be a major mental health issue for Malaysians. In Singapore itself, mental health is still held as a taboo in society with some social consequencesalthough surveys have shown that 1 in 7 Singaporeans have experienced a mental health disorder.

This incident can serve as a stark reminder that actions on social media too can bear consequences, so be careful what you vote for.

Teenage girl commits suicide after Instagram followers voted for her to die

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman voiced deep concern today about the state of Malaysian youths’ mental health following the suicide of a 16-year old teenager in Batu Kawah, Sarawak.

On Twitter, the minister said the incident yesterday, which was linked to an Instagram poll, must prompt urgent contemplation in the country.

“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. I’m free at 5.30pm on Friday.

“Let’s dialogue at the IIUM (International Islamic University) Econs Cafe,” Syed Saddiq said while extending an invitation to break fast with him.

Separately, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh urged the government to investigate interactions on the deceased teen’s social media accounts, saying the suicide appeared to follow an online poll she had initiated.

He pointed out that 69 per cent of the teenager’s Instagram followers had reportedly voted for the late teen to take her own life.

“In the circumstances, I urge the authorities, particularly the Communications and Multimedia Ministry to investigate the social media accounts of the victim and the circumstances that led to her death to prevent further abuse of social media in similar circumstances in the future.

“With respect, classifying the case as sudden death at this stage may not be the right decision without such further investigations,” he said in a statement.

The DAP National Legal Bureau chairman noted that under Malaysian law, attempted suicide is a criminal offence, which could mean that supporting it may be construed as abetment.

Although Ramkarpal acknowledged that it is still too early to determine the reason behind the girl’s death, it was possible she had suffered from depression and decided that suicide was the way out.
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Yesterday, the teen reportedly jumped off a building after the poll uploaded at 3pm on the same day ended.

The poll was titled “Really important, help me choose D/L”, with D denoting a vote for death while L stood for life.

A group of men found her body at around 8 pm yesterday.

Padawan district police chief Aidil Bolhassan said the girl had also uploaded a Facebook status post saying: “Wanna quit f**king life i’m tired”; she had also wished her friends well on her WeChat status.

Aidil told the press the teenager had a close relationship with her stepfather but was emotionally distraught after he married another woman and rarely came home.

The teen’s body was taken to Sarawak General Hospital for an autopsy.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/05/15/lawmakers-distressed-over-teen-suicide-believed-spurred-by-instagram-poll/1753008

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