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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 have a 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.
He further noted that in a 2017 case in the US, a woman was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself, but stressed that he was not saying the two incidents were directly comparable.
However, he questioned how social media users could condone and openly encourage the girl to kill herself.
“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?” Ramkarpal said.
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.
The police said they have detected no criminal elements in the case yet and have classified it as sudden death.
* In Malaysia, suicide helpline Befrienders offers free and confidential support 24 hours a day via 03-79568145.