Girl, 16, 'kills herself after Instagram poll on life or death'

A teenage girl allegedly took her own life after asking her Instagram followers to vote on whether she should ‘live’ or ‘die’

Police in Sarawak, Malaysia, say the girl, 16, ran an Instagram poll with the question ‘Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L’, hours before her death.

Malaysian lawmakers are now calling on authorities to investigate and said those who voted for the girl to die could be guilty of abetting suicide.

According to reports in the country, 69 per cent of followers who voted chose ‘death’.

District police chief Aidil Bolhassan told The Borneo Post newspaper: ‘According to a close friend of the victim, the “D/L” meant Death/Life.’

Ramkarpal Singh, a lawyer and member of parliament, has urged authorities to investigate the circumstances leading to the girl’s death.

He said in a statement: ‘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?’

Under Malaysian law, anyone convicted of abetting the suicide of a minor could face the death penalty or up to 20 years in prison.

Malaysia’s youth and sports minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, also called for a probe, saying that rising suicide rates and mental health issues among young people in the country need to be taken seriously.

He said: ‘It is very unfortunate a young life was lost in this manner.’

Ching Yee Wong, Head of Communications at Instagram said: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with this young woman’s family.

‘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.’

In February, the social media site banned graphic images and content related to self-harm from its platform, citing a need to keep vulnerable users safe.

The changes came following pressure from the parents of a British teenager, who believed that Instagram accounts related to self-harm and depression contributed to their daughter’s suicide in 2017.

The father of Molly Russell, who died aged 14 after viewing content relating to suicide, told the BBC he believed the Facebook-owned app ‘helped kill my daughter’.

Instagram will introduce ‘sensitivity screens’ to blur out graphic images of suicide and self harm as a result.

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said the case had left him ‘deeply moved’.

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