KUCHING: After the death of a 16-year-old girl who was believed to have committed suicide after running a poll amongst her friends on social media on whether she should end her life, lawyers are calling for abetting one to attempt suicide to be made an offence as well.
Democratic Action Party (DAP) National Legal Bureau chairman Ramkarpal Singh said: “Since attempted suicide was an offence in this country, it follows that abetting one to attempt suicide may be too.”
His view was shared by another lawyer Roger Chin, who also said since commiting suicide was a crime in the country, those abetting are also liable and should be charged.
Chin said netizens who responded to the poll should instead persuade the victim not to commit suicide but to seek professional help.
Ramkarpal, who is Bukit Gelugor MP, said various questions had arisen 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?”
In citing the case of one Michelle Carter in the USA in 2017, Ramkarpal said the girlfriend of a man who committed suicide was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging him to commit the said act and was sentenced to two and a half year’s imprisonment as a result.
“I am not suggesting that this incident is on all fours with the Carter case but proper investigations should be carried out to determine what exactly happened.”
In the circumstances, Ramkarpal urged 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.
Ramkarpal said It was important that incidents such as this do not repeat themselves in the future and the matter must be thoroughly investigated as such, and not treated as an isolated case.
In describing what happened to the victim was “most unfortunate”, he said it should serve as a reminder of how some people were vulnerable and the need to take this seriously.
“What is equally disturbing is that some 69 per cent of the teenager’s Instagram followers had reportedly supported her desire to take her life in an online poll that she had posted on the said social media site just before she died.
“Although it is still too early to determine what exactly happened, it is possible that the girl was suffering from depression and contemplated suicide as a result. How some netizens could have actually condoned this is beyond me.”