TAIPEI, Taiwan - Online bullying led a popular young entertainer to commit suicide two days ago in a tragic case that has brought about massive public debate and government investigation.
Peng Hsin-yi, also known by her stage name Cindy , committed suicide at her home in Taichung on April 21 after being relentlessly subjected to cyberbullying. She was 24.
Her death roused public attention, condemnation over cyberbullying, as well as heated debate over how legislators should step in to establish an anti-cyberbullying act.
Many famous celebrities and political figures spoke out against cyberbullying, condemning those anonymous bullies behind the screens who leave a permanent mark on others, leading to suicide in extreme cases.
Peng's elder brother said yesterday morning that she was getting medical therapy for four to five months before committing suicide.
In her death note, she pointed toward Internet bullies for putting her in a fatal depression that in the end she gave in to. She wrote that by her death, she hoped to awaken the public to the issue of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying Penalty Hard to Define
According to the National Communications Commission (NCC), an online system called iWIN is in place for the public to report any cases of cyberbullying. In response, the NCC will inform relevant authorities and will also provide guidelines for the victims if they wish to take their cases to court.
Moreover, police added yesterday that online bullies may be breaking the Criminal Law and the Children and Youth Welfare Act, which can be punishable with up to 12 years imprisonment.
However, it is noted that most cases of cyberbullying, such as criminal libel, cannot be prosecuted without a complaint by the victim.
Cyberbullying prevention and penalties have been debated worldwide. For lawmakers, how cyberbullying should be defined has been a strong point of concern, as has what means of surveillance of cyberbullying can be put in place when such activity may be an intrusion of privacy, and how to avoid violation of freedom of speech when charges are pressed.
Peng's Brother Launches Anti-Cyberbullying Campaign
Peng's family said that they do not seek to accuse particular Web users or blogs of cyberbullying, but they hope to condemn and warn all that have ever committed such acts, have left damaging messages or even just pressed "like" on a harassing comment on Facebook, that they are accomplices to cyberbullying.
"I will set up an anti-cyberbullying campaign, in the hope to raise awareness and assistance from the people, to fight cyberbullying with us, in the name of my sister," said Peng's brother yesterday.