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Help the vulnerable, not irresponsible netizens

17th May, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The incident where a teenager allegedly committed suicide after an online poll favoured her death can be likened to a situation where an irresponsible crowd chanting ‘jump’ when they see a suicidal person on the edge of a rooftop or a balcony of a tall building, said the patron of the Malaysian Psychiatric Association (MPA) Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

In the cyber realm, the crowd’s actions could also be considered as cyberbullying as the majority of pollsters had motivated the victim to end her life, he said.

Those who have pre-existing emotional problems were more vulnerable as they could be easily swayed or affected by social media postings, hence it is important to identify and help them right from the early stage.

“This could be done if we are more sensitive when reading the postings they make on social media,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Therefore, he said family members, relatives and friends should help identify the victims and help them instead of becoming irresponsible netizens who add insult to injury.

“We can also refer them to a doctor or trained counsellor if their problems are hard to solve or prolonged. Malaysia is now having more young adults stressed out or experiencing symptoms of stress-related illnesses such as anxiety or depression due to life experiences or environmental factors,” he said.

Lee said this in response to the incident where a 16-year-old girl from Padawan, Sarawak, committed suicide on Tuesday hours after posting an online poll on social media seeking a choice between life and death. Up to 69 per cent of the respondents had opted for ‘D’ for death while only 31 per cent chose ‘L’ or life.

He added mental immaturity might cause these young adults to be easily influenced by the online content including violent games and the negative opinions, peer pressure and cyberbullying on social media.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 showed that about 4.2 million Malaysians aged 16 and above or 29.2 per cent of the country’s population suffered from various mental problems, an increase of 11.2 per cent compared to 2006.

“More worryingly, the problem also involved students because the ratio of students who had mental problems has increased from one in every 10 students in 2011 to one in every five in 2016. Technology advancement and better internet access have enabled the virtual world to be explored by more Malaysians, including youths and children.

“Unfortunately, the technology has also exposed us to another problem namely cyber harassment, which covers bullying, stalking, racial and religious insults and sexual exploitation in the virtual world,” Lee said. – Bernama

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