Online celebrity commits suicide by drinking pesticide during live broadcast while family vows to sue bullying netizens
Published: Oct 18, 2021 12:21 AM
Photo: The Paper

Photo: The Paper

An online celebrity committed suicide by drinking pesticide during a live broadcast, a rare case in China, which triggered a heated discussion online on whether audiences at the platform should be held accountable for "encouraging the behavior" that probably led to the tragedy. 

The online female celebrity, called "Luoxiaomaomaozi," died on Friday after emergency medical treatment failed, her family confirmed with the Paper. 

In a short video in the livestreaming platform, she said: "This is probably my last video as I have been suffering from depression for a long time." She claimed she had been in hospital for over two months and her friends knew she was diagnosed with depression. "This livestreaming video is never an advertisement for selling products," she said.   

Screenshots went viral online showing when "Luoxiaomaomaozi" took out pesticide while some in the audience encouraged her saying "drink it quickly," while others warned to call the police.

A person who claimed to be the deceased's friend told Sichuan Guancha, a media outlet under Sichuan Television, that "Luoxiaomaomaozi" had not thought of committing suicide but wanted to attract her boyfriend in that way. 

The pesticide she drank was mixed with a beverage and the reason why she finally took it was because someone encouraged her, said a friend, adding that she called the hospital by herself after the livestream was over. 

The Beijing News reported that "Luoxiaomaomaozi's" family vowed to make the audiences responsible. "Luoxiaomaomaozi" had 678,000 followers on the platform and published 38 short videos, mostly about fashion. She had a Taobao online store with the same nickname. 

Zhu Wei, a communications researcher at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday that short video platforms are responsible for reviewing information posted by users.

This incident shows that platforms should enhance supervision on live broadcast and shut down the livestream as soon as it finds problems, Zhu said, adding that "channels of artificial intelligence review on key words and online report should be established to supervise the rooms with a large audience."

Zhu believes that, from the perspective of ethics and social responsibility, the audience should be held responsible.

Ding Jinkun, a lawyer from Shanghai-based Dabang Law Firm, told The Paper that those who harassed the girl are suspected of helping her commit suicide.

If it is found that bullying messages have direct relationship with the suicide, those netizens will be suspected of intentional homicide. If there is no direct relation they could be punished by the public security, Ding said. 

The lawyer said short video platforms should also bear corresponding administrative and civil liabilities for failing to detect and stop the suicide.