On October 14, Korean idol-actress Sulli was found dead in her apartment, in an apparent suicide.
While police investigations are still ongoing, many have speculated that the 25-year-old’s death might have been caused by the intense media scrutiny she was under, along with the constant hate comments that she received from the public.
After her departure from the idol group f(x) in 2015, the idol-actress was the subject of a number of negative reports painting her in a bad light. Under the guise of anonymity, malicious comments were also left on these articles by netizens, criticising her behaviour and social media posts.
Last night, singer-actor Aaron Yan uploaded a lengthy post on his social media accounts, seemingly addressing Sulli’s passing. In his post, he implored the public to pay more heed to their words online, and put an end to cyber-bullying.
“‘What a pity’, ‘Why would she choose this way out’, ‘She was a goddess to me’. Please, can everyone stop addressing this issue so superficially? There’s so much that we should take a closer look at here,” he wrote in his post.
The 33-year-old added that humans are just like any other animal in the world, born with an innate survival instinct.
“The amount of pain, the amount of unbearable stress (that must have accumulated) to drive a person to choose to give up on their survival instinct, this is what we have to investigate. Of date, how many suicides has cyberbullying caused? How many times did we have a change of heart, and sympathise with someone we originally hated or were attacking online, only because we experienced the pain of losing someone dear?” he questioned.
Bringing up popular shows like Black Mirror, 13 Reasons Why and The World Between Us, Aaron noted that all three shows aim to show the public that "these hurtful words left on the internet are no different from the knives, guns, swords and poisons around us. (These shows are) warning us again and again not to belittle the destructive power of internet comments.”
“However, these warnings have all fallen on deaf ears,” Aaron continued. “Instead, people use ‘freedom of speech’ to justify their comments. Freedom of speech has never included defamation, rumour-spreading and lies. Just like how the people of the past went on witch hunts, these people are excited by the thrill of the hunt. If someone doesn’t fit their fancy, they’ll scold and hit their victim mercilessly. They don’t care about what’s right or wrong at all, nor do they stop to consider if they were to be in their victim’s shoes, would they be able to bear such hurt?”
He then ended his post by imploring everyone to think twice before posting comments online.
“Before you post and hurl abuse at others online, please think, if this is what we want our world to be? Or does everyone think that ‘this is the way things are already’, and that they can’t change anything, so it’s better to just let it be? Change is a long and arduous process, but if we aren’t even willing to take the very first step, there’ll be no change at all. Please, let’s give ourselves, and give the world some hope. Don’t think about what other people are doing, change starts from within. If you still think that my words are nonsense, it’s alright. But, I really can’t stand the comments going ‘Why did they choose this way (out)’ whenever someone cannot take (the abuse) any longer, and chooses to end their own life!”
If you or someone you know is having difficulties coping, here are some numbers to call:
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
CHAT @ *SCAPE: (+65) 6493 6500, (+65) 6493 6501
SAF Counselling Hotline: 1800-278-0022
Photos: Sulli/Instagram, Aaron Yan/Weibo