In a shocking incident, a 16-year-old Malaysian girl jumped off a building in Sarawak after conducting a poll among her followers on photo-sharing app Instagram asking them to choose "D/L" (death and life). Soon, she ended her life which has put Instagram as well as the followers who chose the death option under the scanner. "Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L"," the girl had written on her poll.
Her friend told district police chief Aidil Bolhassan that D/L meant death and life and 69 per cent of her followers chose the D option. The police said that investigations are underway especially pertaining to those followers who chose the option D which could be equated with abetment of suicide, a crime in which the accused could face the death penalty or jail for life.
Questions are also being raised on the safety protocol which is being followed by Instagram when it comes to self-harm and promoting such thoughts. Instagram clarified that the poll, which the girl conducted, was online for 24 hours and it showed that 88 per cent of the voters chose L (life option).
"Instagram reviewed the teenager's account and found that the online poll, which ran over a 24-hour period, ended with 88 per cent votes for 'L'," said Wong Ching Yee, Instagram's head of communications in the Asia-Pacific, the Reuters reported.
However, Instagram's statement has been confronted by Malaysian Police which said that the poll results may have changed after death. The suicide has also sparked a debate in the country where cases of depression and suicides among the younger generation is spiking.
Ramkarpal Singh, an advocate and a member of Parliament, said that all the followers who voted for the death option should be charged with the abetment of suicide. "Would the girl still be alive today if the majority of netizens on her Instagram account discouraged her from taking her own life?" he said.
Malaysia's youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said that a probe has been initiated into the matter and cases of psychological problems in the country are rising.
Instagram, while offering condolences to the teenage girl's family, said, "As part of our own efforts, we urge everyone to use our reporting tools and to contact emergency services if they see any behaviour that puts people's safety at risk."
Instagram had to review its content policy after a British couple charged it with abetment of suicide when their daughter committed suicide after being affected by pictures of self-harm and depression on the app.