MP SPEAKS | The recent suicide of a 16-year-old in Batu Kawah, Sarawak, is most unfortunate and a reminder of how some people are vulnerable and the need to take this matter seriously.
What is equally disturbing is that some 69 percent of the teenager’s Instagram followers had reportedly supported her desire to take her life in an online poll that she had posted on the said social media site just before she died.
Although it is still too early to determine what exactly happened, it is possible that the girl was suffering from depression and contemplated suicide as a result.
How some netizens could have actually condoned this is beyond me.
Various questions arise from this unfortunate incident.
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?
In the case of one Michelle Carter (below) in the United States in 2017, the girlfriend of a man who committed suicide, she was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging him to commit the said act and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years imprisonment as a result.
I am not suggesting that this Sarawak incident is similar to the Carter case, but proper investigations should be carried out to determine what exactly happened.
It is important that incidents such as this do not repeat themselves in the future and the matter must be thoroughly investigated as such, and not treated as an isolated case.
Since attempted suicide is an offence in this country, it follows that abetting one to attempt suicide may be, too.
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.
RAMKARPAL SINGH is the Member of Parliament for Bukit Gelugor in Penang and he chairs the National Legal Bureau of the DAP.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.