A Malaysian teenager who posted an Instagram poll asking if she should live or die took her own life after a majority of respondents voted for the latter, sparking calls for an investigation.

The unidentified 16-year-old from Kuching in eastern Sarawak state died after posting the poll Monday on the Facebook-owned picture-sharing platform.

Police have classified the case as “sudden death”.

“Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L,” she wrote, according to a report on the news portal Astro Awani, with the letters “D” and “L” apparently referring to “die” or “live” respectively.

Sixty-nine percent of votes cast were in favour of her ending her life, with just 31 percent against, local media quoted police as saying.

Lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh called for a probe into the circumstances of her death.

“Would the girl still be alive today if the majority of netizens on her Instagram account discouraged her from taking her own life?” he asked.

“I urge the authorities… 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.”

Mental health worries

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq tweeted that he was “genuinely worried” about the state of mental health of young people in Malaysia.

“It’s a national issue which must be taken seriously. A national discussion must take place,” he said.

Ching Yee Wong, head of communications for Instagram APAC, said in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with this young woman’s family.

“We have a deep responsibility to make sure people using Instagram feel safe and supported. 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 announced a clampdown on images of self-harm in February after a British teen who went online to read about suicide took her own life.

The death of 14-year-old Molly Russell sparked a debate in Britain about regulating children’s social media use.

Her parents did not directly blame Instagram for the loss of their daughter but they cited the easy access to disturbing content as a contributing factor and urged the network to respond.

Instagram has never allowed posts that promote or encourage suicide or self-harm.

But as part of the clampdown, it removed references to non-graphic content related to people hurting themselves from its searches and recommendation features.

It also banned hashtags relating to self-harm.

The measures are meant to make such images more difficult to find for depressed teens who might have suicidal tendencies. – AFP

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