When we heard about the girl who committed suicide in Sarawak after an Instagram poll, we had a thought: Did she lose her life because of netizens or the technology — social media — which she used?
16-year-old Davia Emelia decided to take her life after “69% of pollsters on her Instagram account supported the option to kill herself”, The Star reported.
The Instagram poll read: “Really Important, Help Me Choose D or L”
She died after “jumping off the third floor of a shop lot in Bandar Baru Batu Kawa on 13 May”, SAYS reported.
Instagram was cited in BBC saying, “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 behavior that puts people’s safety at risk.”
You can find this reporting tool on your Instagram account:
- Tap the three-dot icon.
- Tap “Report”
- Select “It’s inappropriate” > “self-injury”.
- Tap “Report” [Android only].
Once you have reported the content, Instagram would reach out to the victim with helpful resources.
Question is, why didn’t netizens do that? Instead, they chose to ‘joke around’ and ask this poor girl to choose ‘D’ (die).
The Truth Behind Her Death
Based on an investigation by the police, it was found that Davia was suspected of experiencing depression, The Star reported.
It was suspected that one of the reasons the girl was upset was because her stepfather — who works in Singapore — rarely came home ever since he got married to a Vietnamese woman.
If this is the case, then her friends/ family/ the people whom she meets on a regular basis would have known how much pain she was in.
If she had not been close with her friends, she wouldn’t have left a WeChat message to her friends right before she committed suicide. These friends could have helped her when she made that Instagram poll or even when she reportedly updated her Facebook status to say: “Wanna Quit F**king Life I’m Tired”.
They could have informed her parents or even the police. We’re not certain if they did so or not. Or perhaps she was suffering in silence till she made the post and poll.
Using AI to Detect Suicidal Posts
Guy Rosen, VP of Product Management of Facebook said that Facebook is using AI to detect words/ phrases on posts or live videos which have suicidal tendencies, and they are working to help respond to reports faster. Once a concerning post has been reported by a user or detected by machine learning, the Facebook Community Operations team will then analyze the content to determine if the victim is at risk and will proceed to send helpful resources to them. If the victim is in serious danger, Facebook may proceed to contact local authorities.
Question is, did anyone report her status update? Did Facebook’s machine learning algorithm detect the suicidal nature of her post? We don’t have the answers.
In A Nutshell
We believe Davia was crying for help through social media. Maybe she wanted one person to reach out to her and remind her of her value and significance in this world. She just needed one person to be there and to hold her. However, in today’s world, we are so used to being pranked on social media that we tend not to think twice about anything we see on social media.
It could be that her friends and family didn’t know how to ease her pain. We can’t undo what’s been done but here’s how we can prevent future cases. If you suspect anyone to have suicidal tendencies, report the content/ post and get in touch with that person and just listen to them. Sometimes all they need is someone to listen to them. Keep reminding them how valuable they are and how important they are to you. A little bit of love goes a long way. If you have the fear that you’ll only be making it worse, then find another friend or a family member for them or put them in touch with helplines such as Befrienders.
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