The suicide of a teenager in China has sparked a massive furore online after reports that onlookers encouraged her to jump off a building. Media reports have said police have detained many of the onlookers for being 'disrespectful to life'.
Chinese media reported that 19-year-old surnamed Li was about to jump off a building in Qingyang, in northwest China's Gansu Province on Monday. A local news outlet reported that onlookers who saw that Li was about to jump encouraged her to go ahead. They laughed after she had died, Chinese state-run Global Times reported.
Li was reportedly battling depression ever since she was sexually assaulted by her middle school teacher in 2016, when she was 17 years old. Her father says she had attempted suicide multiple times after the sexual abuse.
Egged on by some who had seen her about to jump off the building, Li finally killed herself.
This has sparked heated debates on Chinese social media like the Twitter-clone Weibo. Many criticised the onlookers for their apathy and lack of empathy with the troubled teenager. Some suggested that it was their behaviour which may been the final straw for her.
Many of those who allegedly egged Li on to kill herself have been taken into custody for being 'disrespectful to life', according to news reports, which added that local authorities are conducting an investigation.
Reflecting on the heated debate that the incident has sparked, a newspaper in Beijing carried an editorial calling for the onlookers to held responsible for the teenager's suicide. The editorial pushed for authorities to consider if their actions may have pushed Li to jump, or disrupted rescue attempts by police or firefighters - all bases for legal action.
In a manner that is typical for China, and given the ongoing furore over the gruesome episode, there is little clarity on what actionable charges the onlookers have been detained on or what they are being investigated for.
Social media users however kept up the debate over what action had been taken against the teacher who sexually assaulted Li and what kind of action could be deemed sufficient.