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Jakarta Post

ITE Law amendment needed to prevent people encouraging suicide: Criminologist

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, February 27, 2019   /   09:33 am
ITE Law amendment needed to prevent people encouraging suicide: Criminologist The phenomenon of onlookers filming a suicide indicated that people had become so obsessed with media sensationalism that they had lost any sense of empathy, University of Indonesia criminologist Josias Simon said. (Shutterstock/-)

The government should revise the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law to punish people who encourage others to commit suicide, University of Indonesia (UI) criminologist Josias Simon has said.

Last Friday, a young man, identified as TSR, died in Lampung after jumping from the roof of a supermarket. TSR had been encouraged to jump by onlookers, who filmed his suicide. In a video of the tragic incident, the man filming can be heard laughing and saying “Jump off! Jump off!”. In another video, a woman can be heard saying, “He really ended up jumping off because we convinced him to do so!”

The police have named TSR a victim of suicide, however, those who provoked and recorded the incident cannot be held culpable for their behavior under existing laws.

Josias said the phenomenon indicated that people had become so obsessed with media sensationalism that they had lost any sense of empathy.

He said the onlookers recorded the suicide because they wanted to get likes and comments on social media.

“This attitude is individualistic, and does not represent our cultural values. Therefore, the government must take action,” Josias told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

He added that under the ITE Law, such behavior could not be punished as the law did not contain any articles that identified it as a crime.

“It’s not clear the ITE Law can be used to punish them. The lawmakers should take a look at it again,” he said, adding that, to his knowledge, the Criminal Code also did not categorize this form of offensive behavior as a crime.

Josias argued this type of selfish behavior would continue among those seeking social media attention if a regulation was not introduced to prohibit it.

Communications and Information Ministry Information Applications Director General Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan also said the ITE Law did not provide a legal basis for charging people for such behavior.

“The ITE Law is aimed at regulating content on the Internet,” he told the Post.

Semuel said that unethical content must be taken down in accordance with the law, which stipulates that the spreading of such content on social media is a punishable crime.

Concerning TSR, he said that a team would be assigned to scrutinize the case and take down the videos of the suicide that were circulating on the internet.

He also urged the public not to disseminate the video as it would hurt the victim's family and relatives.

“They could also be punished for spreading it,” he added.

Another case of suicide footage being spread online occurred in 2017, when a 35-year-old man broadcast his suicide on Facebook, shocking netizens before the government demanded the social media platform take down the content. The man shared a live stream in which he explained and fashioned a noose out of a scarf with which he hung himself.

TSR reportedly committed suicide after a fight with his girlfriend.

“Suicide occurs because of the failure of family members to recognize the signs of depression and intervene. They must be helped because they have a mental health issue,” Psychologist Kasandra Purwanto told the Post. (das)