Sarawak patriots join calls for probe after Instagram suicide

KUCHING: The Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) has joined the calls for authorities to investigate the suicide of a teenager after she ran a poll on photo-sharing app Instagram to vote on whether she should take her own life.

In Malaysia, anyone convicted of abetting the suicide of a minor could face the death penalty or up to 20 years in jail under Section 305 of the Penal Code.

SPA secretary David Hii says there is no denying the fact that there are people out there facing problems at home or at work, and they have a hard time dealing with the pressure and are contemplating suicide.

Last year, the Malaysian Mental Health Association warned that there was an alarming spike in the number of teenagers and children in the country contemplating suicide – even as young as nine years old.

David Hii

“SPA would like to stress that children or teenagers may not have the developmental maturity to act on suicidal thoughts as they may just wish to end their emotional pain without having fully understood the nature and consequences of their actions,” said Hii in a press statement yesterday.

“It is therefore imperative for their parents and/or friends to identify the early warning signs, support and help them through it.”

He added: “This was a very sad case where a child’s life was lost in vain. We now realise the importance of artificial intelligence tools for social networks to screen social media posts for warning signs of suicide to predict and prevent future occurrences from happening again.”

“SPA is of the view that those people who encouraged her to take her own life are equally as guilty for causing her death. What the girl needed was comfort, support and assistance, not induction and instigation.”

SPA also calls for a review by the Pakatan Harapan government of the current provision of Section 309 of the Penal Code in respect of attempted suicide.

“A reform is needed in this area as rendering treatment and assistance to them would be more beneficial. They need help and not punishment.”