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Russia’s largest parliamentary caucus has drafted a motion increasing the maximum term for pushing someone to suicide to 15 years if the victim is underage or if the crime is committed via the internet.
As defined by the law,
“pushing towards suicide” is giving solicited and unsolicited advice or instructions concerning taking their own life to someone who is not dependent on the adviser, otherwise the crime is qualified as “driving someone towards suicide” – which is a different crime punished more rigidly.
The note attached with the bill explains that the idea was to offer additional protection to children as they are more likely to be vulnerable to becoming victims of so-called “suicide groups” on the web or other sources promoting suicide.
The first bill introducing punishment for driving someone towards suicide was passed in May 2017, after reports in the Russian mass media on internet groups in which children participate in dangerous and potentially deadly games.
One of such games involved crossing a busy highway in front of speeding cars or following instructions with increasing levels of self-harm, ending in suicide.
The phenomenon is known by the name of one of the most popular groups – the Blue Whale.
According to Roskomnadzor, Russian Internet watchdog, in 2016, its agents found and blocked 4,751 internet pages with instructions on suicide or calls to commit it.
Managers of major Russian social networks also promised to block similar dangerous groups, and include the phone numbers of psychological helplines for teenagers on certain pages.
The proposed amendments set the terms of sentences that can be given for pushing people towards suicide at between five and 10 years. In cases when the suicide victim is a child or pregnant woman, the punishment is set at between six and 12 years, and in cases with more than one such victim, the maximum term is raised to 15 years.