Public suicide of harassment victim sparks online anguish

Reuters
Some passers-by on the street below heckled her, shouting "How come you haven't jumped yet?"
Reuters

The suicide of a Chinese student who threw herself off a building after complaining of sexual harassment by a teacher has sparked online anguish, particularly because some onlookers egged her on and clapped when she jumped.

The 19-year-old student surnamed Li jumped to her death from the eighth storey of a building in the city of Qingyang last Wednesday.

Videos of the incident shared online showed Li sitting on a ledge for hours while rescue workers tried to talk her down. Some passers-by on the street below heckled her, shouting "How come you haven't jumped yet?"

When she jumped, some people clapped while a rescuer worker screamed out in distress.

Police have detained some onlookers who shouted at Li, according to the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper.

Online commentators lamented the callousness of the crowd.

Li's parents say their daughter became depressed after she was sexually harassed in September by a teacher who had tried to kiss and hug her, the newspaper reported.

Li's parents told the newspaper the harassment had led to bouts of depression, a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress and multiple attempts of suicide by their daughter.

The parents were offered 350,000 yuan (US$53,564) in compensation by the school but they declined it as that would have required withdrawing their complaint against the teacher.

"We could not sign that humiliating agreement," the newspaper quoted the parents as saying.

The Qingyang education bureau had disciplined the teacher at and organized the compensation package, the paper reported.

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