Reports yesterday from Kuching, Sarawak, confirmed that a 16-year-old girl committed suicide shortly after sending her Instagram followers a story in which she asked them if she should end her life.
Malay-language portal Astro Awani has stated that the teen ended her life by jumping from the third-floor of a shop lot in the Bandar Baru Batu Kawa neighborhood of the city on Monday night.
Having previously posted Facebook statuses telling her friends that she was distraught and no longer willing to carry on, one post explicitly stated:
“WANNA QUIT F*CKING LIFE, I’M TIRED.”
Her Instagram story, where she included a pol: “Really Important, Help Me Choose D (die) / L (life).”
According to a senior officer, 69% of those who voted encouraged the girl to end her life.
She left a goodbye message on her WeChat account.
Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh, brother of Gobind Singh Deo, minister of Communications and Multimedia, has called for a full investigation by the ministry.
“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,” Ramkarpal said in a statement today.
“What is equally disturbing is that some 69% 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.”
Preliminary investigations into the matter have indicated that the girl may have been upset by her father’s recent marriage to a Vietnamese woman in Singapore, and the fact that he rarely came back to Sarawak to see the teen.
A neighbor found the girl’s body Monday at 8pm, and reported the discovery to officers. Shortly thereafter, the young girl’s brother and mother returned home from dinner to make the grim discovery for themselves.
Her body is currently undergoing a postmortem examination at a Sarawak hospital, although police have ruled out a criminal motive in the case.
The Sarawak teen’s death follows a worrying trend in global suicide rates which has seen among young women aged 15 to 19. Between 2007 and 2015, rates doubled in the United States.
A 2017 UK report alleged that self-harm rates among teen girls engaging in self-harm rose 68%.
While direct links to these numbers and social media usage have not been established, recent studies have indicated that screen time can cause a spike in anxiety in young adults.
At-risk social media users are able to find active subset communities and dedicated groups idolizing suicide on several platforms, and have been known to even encounter peer-pressure to go through with their ideations.
Readers, this is a sad and tragic case. For all of those out there who are feeling depressed, suicidal, and alone, remember that there are people out there who care about you, and there are anonymous folks to talk to.
Befrienders KL has a dedicated hotline for emotional support — +603-79568145.