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15.16 15 May 2019


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Authorities in Malaysia have launched an investigation after a teenage girl was found to have taken her own life after starting an Instagram poll asking users to vote for life or death.

The unnamed 16-year-old posed the question to users on Monday, saying: "Really important, help me choose: D/L."

Hours later, the teenager took her own life in the east Malaysia state of Sarawak.

District police chief Aidil Bolhassan said 69% of respondents at the time of her death had selected "D".

However, Instagram maintains that the poll ended after 24 hours with 88% of her followers choosing "L".

Mr Bolhassan said the results may have changed during the 24-hour period that the poll was active as more people learned of her fate.

The girl is also known to have a history of battling with depression.

Her death has triggered high-profile reaction across Malaysia, with politicians saying it should not be treated as an isolated case.

In a post to Facebook, MP and lawyer Ramkarpal Singh said it served as a reminder of the "need to take [mental health] seriously".

He asked: "Would the girl still be alive today if the majority of netizens on her Instagram account discouraged her from taking her own life?

"Did the encouragement of those netizens actually influence her decision to take her own life?"

Wong Ching Yee, Instagram's head of communications in the Asia-Pacific, sent condolences to the teenager's family and encouraged users to contact emergency services and file a report if "they see any behaviour that puts people's safety at risk".

This is not the first time the photo-sharing platform has been in the spotlight for cases related to the mental health of its younger users.

British schoolgirl Molly Russell took her own life in 2017 after viewing content related to self harm and depression online.

Her father publicly blamed Instagram for his daughter's death, which led to the Facebook-owned platform banning graphic and self harm-related pictures.

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact the Samaritans on 116-123 or e-mail jo@samaritans.ie


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